3 Shares With Fast-Improving Prospects: BP plc (BP), Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), Unilever plc (UL)

LONDON — I’ve been searching the FTSE 100 to find companies where profit estimates have been increasing. If sentiment on a company is turning for the better, these shares could deliver big returns as the stock is rerated.

Using data from Stockopedia, I have found the FTSE 100 companies whose earnings forecasts have been increased the most often in the last month. Here are three of them.

BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP)BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) (LSE:BP)
BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) is striving to put the Gulf of Mexico disaster behind it. Over two years since the accident, BP’s final liability is still unclear.

In the last month, five analysts have moved to increase their earnings-per-share forecast for BP in 2014. Now, the consensus is that BP will make $1.01 per share in 2014 and pay $0.40 in dividends. That’s a 2014 P/E of 7.3 and an expected yield of 5.4%.

BP may still have more to pay out to settle disaster claims, but 2013 looks like the year that BP shareholders can get financial closure on the Gulf disaster.

Unilever plc (ADR) (NYSE:UL)
Progress in the eurozone has inspired confidence in the profits of companies making sales there. One such organization is Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever. Sentiment toward the stock has been boosted in the last month by seven upgrades to 2014 forecasts.

Expectations are that the company will earn 1.75 euros per share in 2014, paying a 1.07 euro dividend.

Unilever is a top company. As is usually the case, this has given its shares a top price. The shares trade on a 2014 P/E of 17.1 times earnings. Although the dividend looks safe, with EPS growth of just 9% being forecast, the valuation looks pretty full to me.

Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) (LSE:VOD)
In 2012, Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD) paid out more cash in dividends than any other FTSE 100 company. This was thanks in part to a 4 pence special dividend that Vodafone paid. This payment came from Verizon Wireless, the U.S. mobile operator of which Vodafone owns 45%.

In the last month, Vodafone’s 2014 earnings have been upgraded six times. Expectations now are for the company to deliver EPS of 16.2 pence for 2014, paying a 10.5 pence dividend.

I expect the current share buyback program to support the Vodafone share price and future dividend payments. I am happy to hold shares in the company.

The article 3 Shares With Fast-Improving Prospects originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by David O’Hara.

David O’Hara owns shares in Vodafone but none of the other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Unilever and Vodafone.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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