SUNDAY NEWSPAPER SHARE TIPS: Hays, Lookers, Ocado and SSP


Every week, This is Money rounds-up the share tips from business sections of the Sunday newspapers.

Today, Midas updates on a trio of firms, including MJ Gleeson, which specialises in affordable homes in the North.

The Sunday Telegraph takes a look at SSP, which is set to launch a new bakery chain with Paul Hollywood, while the Sunday Times stares into a robotic future driven by online supermarket Ocado.

FINANCIAL MAIL ON SUNDAY

MJ Gleeson is a strong business that is growing stronger. Originally recommended by Midas in December 2011 at 104p, the shares had risen to 570p by last March and today they are 612.5p.

The company unveiled robust half-year results last month, accompanied by a 44 per cent increase in the interim dividend to 6.5p – a real expression of confidence about its prospects.

This optimism is well placed. Gleeson specialises in building affordable homes in the North – homes where monthly mortgage payments are cheaper than council house rent.

>> Read the full Midas column here 

Hays operates in 33 countries, finding permanent, contractual and temporary jobs for white collar and professional workers.

Midas last looked at the firm in October 2014, with the shares at 116p. Today they are 159.75p and chief executive Alistair Cox is on track with a five-year plan to take profits from £125 million in 2013 to almost £250 million by next year. 

Meanwhile, Lookers derives a third of its profits from new car sales and the rest from used cars, repair and maintenance.

The shares have been badly tarred with the Brexit brush, starting 2016 at 185p, slumping to 92p in June and only partially recovering since – to 123.75p. 

>> Read the full Midas column here 

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Kate Swann has a knack of running businesses hard and delivering for shareholders. SSP, whose brands Upper Crust and Le Grand Comptoir will be familiar to weary travellers.

The company also runs outlets on behalf of Starbucks, Burger King and Yo! Sushi. SSP was once part of catering giant Compass and among its antecedents is a business responsible for the infamous British Rail sandwich.

Now it has an appetite to move upmarket. Swann is salivating at the prospect of a network of Knead bakeries that SSP will begin opening shortly in partnership with Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood.

Questor advised locking in profits in January. The broader trend for increased global travel still makes SSP a long-term buy.

THE SUNDAY TIMES

On a business park in Hertfordshire a futuristic vision of the world is evolving: a kingdom built from blocks. Robotic cranes whirr overhead on a grid, dropping containers into place.

You want a hotel? Easy. Stackable hospital? No problem. Morgue? Done in a jiffy.

The company behind this futuristic patent, filed last year, is better known for selling orange juice and free range chicken: online supermarket Ocado.

Last year it made £12million profit on £1.3billion of sales, while debt climbed 30 per cent to £164.9million.

It’s putting robots at the heart of its vision for groceries. The Times does not doubt its ability to deliver groceries punctually to well-heeled households in the home-counties. Doing so profitably is another matter. Sell. 

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