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Home / Special Reports / Q3 2018 Top Stock Picks

This report is not a personal recommendation and does not take into account your personal circumstances or appetite for risk.

1 July 2018

Q3 2018 Top Stock Picks

Watching the UK 100 index of top UK stocks can sometimes induce a sense of vertigo even in experienced market professional.

Spectating from the side-lines is one thing, but when investments are on the line, traders feel a sense of deeper responsibility and pressure to understand the momentum and movement of financial markets.

Beyond the Numbers

Where are the major stocks moving and why? Can a perennial underachiever surprise the markets and deliver an outstanding performance next quarter? Are there hidden dangers lying ahead for traditional investment vehicles?

Accendo Markets prides itself on delivering and in-depth and personalised market support structure, both through it research service and its cadre of experienced financial brokers.

The purpose of these assets is not just to observe the markets and report news headlines, but to understand the underlying forces moving stocks and to empower our clients to make investment decisions in advance and with full confidence.

To help more of our clients benefit from this expertise, we have compiled the following overview of top and bottom UK Index performers in Q2 2018, as well as identified several stocks that have the potential of delivering tradable opportunities in the upcoming third quarter of the year.

Context is King

Historical performance is never a guarantee of future results, and all past share price movements need to be analysed in their proper context. Competitive environment, market sentiment and geopolitical news all play an important role in investment decisions and a comprehensive analysis of potential opportunities involves more than just looking at headline share price movement figures.

In this report, we take an in-depth look at 10 potentially attractive stocks and examine what opportunities they hold for investors in Q3 2018.

Among these stocks, you can find some surprising names, including an international precious metals miner, an online retail upstart and one of UK’s most recognisable household brands.

UK Index : New Records, New Turbulence

Second quarter of 2018 has seen some heady movements for the UK 100 index of blue chip stocks.

Spring is the traditional period of rejuvenation and beginning of the quarter lived up to expectations with a sustained stock market rally. The UK’s benchmark index advanced from the lows of late March to reach record all-time high levels on 22 May.

At the same time, the second half of the quarter was characterised by significant rise in global trade tensions that was often reflected in sharp up-and-down movement of many UK 100 stocks.

Financial markets are complicated and multifaceted, and investors can sometimes find underperforming stocks even during a UK Index rally, or an incredible overachiever even in the most bearish of markets.

Read on to find out more about some of the stocks whose share price has risen and fallen the most since the beginning of the year and sign up to have our research sent directly to your inbox.

Page: 01

UK Index outperformers

Online grocer Ocado surprised the markets with several key commercial partnerships with major supermarket chains. Steelmaker Evraz benefited from exposure to US market, which shielded it from some of President Trump’s EU steel tariffs.

Broadcaster Sky continued to be an attractive target of takeover efforts from several major suitors, including Disney and Comcast. Retailer Next remained resilient in the face on worsening outlook for UK High Street.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s unveiled a takeover bid for rival Asda but fell behind sector leader Tesco on sales and market share. Gulf-based healthcare network NMC Health and luxury goods firm Burberry enjoyed a strong share price momentum.

Among the rest of outperformers, Irish packaging giant Smurfit Kappa declined a takeover bid from International Paper, while London Stock Exchange suffered a first major technical outage in 7 years.

… And underperformers

And what about underperformers? Micro Focus issued a profit warning in March, still struggling after troubled acquisition of enterprise software developer HPE.

South African insurer Old Mutual spun-off its wealth management division (named Quilter) with both firms now too small for UK 100 , while peer Standard Life Aberdeen got approval for sale of its pensions business.

Defensive stalwart British American Tobacco spent £500m on new-generation products, but sales growth slowed in spite of weaker Sterling providing a tailwind.

Telecoms giant Vodafone shares were rocked by departure of long-serving CEO, with questions raised about succession planning. Rival BT received interest from outside investors for its Openreach division. IT business Sage Group disappointed shareholders by missing H1 revenue expectations.

Precious metals miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources are hampered by falling gold prices and worries over new Chinese trade barriers, while housebuilder Barratt Developments felt the weakness of softer UK housing market, damaged by Brexit uncertainty.

Over the next several pages, read in more detail about 10 potential investment opportunities that can develop in Q3 2018.

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Barratt Developments (BDEV)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Barratt Developments is one of the largest residential property developers in the United Kingdom. While 2018 has been tough on UK housebuilders, ensnared in a weakening housing market and Brexit uncertainty, more recent developments give cause for cautious optimism.

Nationwide House Prices rising 2% in June (beating estimates) and the Halifax Housing Index showing an improvement from April lows could be pointing toward a recovery, potentially benefiting housebuilders. However, risk of Brexit uncertainty could keep London housing market (important for Barratt Developments) soft, souring the stock’s potential.

Barratt Developments share price has fallen close to 21% from 2018 highs, but has since recovered 2%, with a potential support level forming around 517p.

Will Barratt return to highs of 660p (+27%) or fall back to lows of 467p (-10%)?

Next Event: FY Sales and Revenue – Trading Update, 11 July

Broker Consensus: 64.7% Buy, 25.5% Hold, 11.8% Sell

Bullish: Jefferies, Buy, Target 795p, +53% (25 June 18)
Average Target: 639p, +23% (28 June 18)
Bearish: Liberum, Hold, Target 525p, +1% (1 June 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

British American Tobacco (BATS)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

British American Tobacco is a classic example of a defensive stock. Its products are non-cyclical, meaning that they will find sufficient consumer demand even in economic downturn. Current geopolitical tensions involving trade and tariffs open potential for investors to flock into defensive stocks like British American Tobacco.

Shares have been on a recent downtrend, losing 26% of their value since the highs of 2018, but have recovered 5.7% from the year’s lows, potentially finding a bottom at February 2016 support level of 3600p. In mid-June, British American Tobacco shares staged a bullish breakout of this year’s falling highs resistance. Risk remains, however, that a UK Index rally could create a preference for riskier stocks (e.g. banks, miners) or that a stronger GBP could damage the company’s earnings.

Broker consensus on British American Tobacco is strongly bullish, with over 76% of analysts saying “Buy”, 24% advocating for “Hold” and zero negatively biased brokers. All 17 brokerages with recent updates on British American Tobacco project a medium-term upside from the stock’s current share price.

Will BATS return to highs of 4321p (+15%) or fall back to lows of 3388p (-10%)?

Next Event: H1 Results, 26 July

Broker Consensus: 76% Buy, 24% Hold, 0% Sell
Bullish: Investec, Buy, Target 5500p, +46% (21 June 18)
Average Target: 4780p, +27% (27 June 18)
Bearish: RBC Capital Markets, Sector Perform, Target 3800p, +1% (13 June 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Burberry (BRBY)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Luxury fashion designer Burberry has seen its shares on a strong uptrend since the second quarter of 2018 (+45% from 2018 lows), with a rising channel since May and a bullish breakout in June from the highs of November 2017. As a luxury goods manufacturer, Burberry is typically resistant to global economic concerns, while a weaker GBP provides some tailwind to profits.

Competition for luxury market is relatively high, creating a risk. Threat of a stronger GBP, if the Bank of England increases its interest rates in August, could create an FX headwind for Burberry.

Broker consensus on Burberry is very neutral, with half of analysts suggesting a more long-term “Hold” strategy. At the same time, recent strong share price momentum and bullish breakout could induce some of these neutral brokers to upgrade their ratings.

Will Burberry go to new highs 2400p (+12%) or fall back to 2024p support (-6%)?

Next Event: Q1 Trading Update, 11 July

Broker Consensus: 21% Buy, 50% Hold, 29% Sell
Bullish: Goldman Sachs, Buy/Neutral, Target 2415p, +12% (16 May 18)
Average Target: 1860p, -13% (27 June 18)
Bearish: Invest Securities SA, Neutral, Target 1560p, -27% (2 November 16)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Fresnillo (FRES)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Shares of precious metals miner Fresnillo have retreated from their May peak and are within close distance to the December 2016 support level of 1118p. Positive Q1 production report in late May sent the shares to multi-month highs and recent share-price sell-off (-21% from 2018 highs) could make Fresnillo a potentially attractive bargain stock.

With a new Q2 production report scheduled to be released on 25 July, the miner’s shares could see some benefit and reverse back to May highs, though risk always remains that poor production will lead to an extension of the downtrend.

Brokers have a generally positive bias toward Fresnillo, with 44% of analysts saying “Buy”, 56% holding a neutral stance and no negatively disposed brokers. All 13 of the recent broker updates see a share price upside from current levels.

Will Fresnillo go to falling highs of 1330p (+16%) or fall back to 1110p lows (-4%)?

Next Event: Q2 Production Update, 25 July

Broker Consensus: 44% Buy, 56% Hold, 0% Sell
Bullish: BMO Capital Markets, Outperform, Target 1650p, +44% (25 June 18)
Average Target: 1860p, -13% (27 June 18)
Bearish: RBC Capital Markets, Sector Perform, Target 1200p, +5% (25 June 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Micro Focus International (MCRO)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Software giant Micro Focus International had a disappointing year with an H1 profits warning after a less-than-stellar acquisition of rival enterprise software developer HPE. Micro Focus shares are 51% below 2018 highs, after a drastic fall in March, but have since recovered an impressive 61% of their value, pointing out, perhaps, that the original sell-off was a market overreaction.

Brokers are rather bullish on Micro Focus, sensing a potential bargain and an ability of the share price to close the gap back to March highs. A healthy 63% of brokers see an upside from current price levels, with the most recent update from Numis Securities projecting an impressive medium-term share price of 2010p.

Investors should still be mindful that more corporate earnings problems at Micro Focus related to HPE merger could hurt share price recovery, with upcoming H2 results serving as an important guide for share price direction.

Will Micro Focus close the gap to 1883p (+43%) or fall back to 1115p lows (-15%)?

Next Event: H2 Results, 11 July

Broker Consensus: 42% Buy, 42% Hold, 17% Sell
Bullish: Numis Securities, Buy, Target 2010p, +52% (1 June 18)
Average Target: 1410p, +7% (27 June 18)
Bearish: J.P. Morgan, Underweight, Target 900p, -32% (16 May 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Ocado (OCDO)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Ocado is an online grocery retailer that has also developed a sophisticated online shopping platform which it licenses to major food retailers around the world. Ocado’s shares have been experiencing an impressive positive momentum in 2018 (158% year-to-date) after company inked a string of successful partnership deals in the UK (Morrison’s), Sweden, France, Canada and, most recently, the US with retail giant Kroger.

Ocado shares are down 10% from early June highs, with recent uptrend turning shallower and sideways. In the past, big jumps in Ocado’s share price came alongside news of new partnerships. Going forward this can present both an investment opportunity (news of new deals) and a risk (agreements failing or a long eventless periods).

Broker consensus on Ocado is relatively mixed, with many analysts still sitting on the fence (45% neutral), doubtful over Ocado’s transition toward being a platform developer rather than a pure online supermarket. Some brokers, however, are starting to warm up to the idea, with the recent update from Peel Hunt projecting an impressive 1700p target price (+60% from current levels).

Will Ocado go to new highs of 1200p (+13%) or fall to 918p mid-June lows (-10%)?

Next Event: H1 Results, 10 July

Broker Consensus: 33% Buy, 45% Hold, 22% Sell
Bullish: Peel Hunt, Buy, Target 1700p, +60% (21 June 18)
Average Target: 823p, -22% (27 June 18)
Bearish: Société Générale, Sell, Target 207p, -80% (7 May 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Royal Mail Group (RMG)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Royal Mail has been a household name in the United Kingdom for centuries, most of the time serving as a public postal service. The company has been publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of UK 100 since 2014.

Royal Mail shares are down 20% from May highs, when the company announced its latest results, with markets reacting negatively to news that FY pre-tax profits fell 37%. The share price fall has slowed down in June, with the stock now trading more than 12% above year’s lows. With Royal Mail’s shares stabilising, this represents a potential investment opportunity to take advantage of the stock’s relative bargain value.

Be mindful of potential disappointment of upcoming Q1 Trading Update (17 July). If company once again delivers poor results, shares could fall below recent support level. Bloomberg’s collation of broker comments reflects both possibilities, with majority of analysts (56%) advocating for a wait-and-see approach, though a positive trading update could induce some of the neutrals to upgrade their preference.

Will Royal Mail return to May highs of 632p (+26%) or fall to 445p 2018 lows (-11%)?

Next Event: Q1 Trading Update, 17 July

Broker Consensus: 6% Buy, 56% Hold, 37% Sell
Bullish: Barclays, Buy, Target 630p, +25% (30 May 18)
Average Target: 506p, +1% (27 June 18)
Bearish: Jefferies, underperform, Target 400p, -20% (25 June 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Randgold Resources (RRS)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Miner Randgold Resources, which develops gold deposits in West and Central Africa, historically has been a stable Q3 performer. Although the stock’s price movements have been disappointing bullishly-minded investors in 2018 (shares down 23% from 2018 highs), it has been typically performing well during past summer months. The stock has potentially found its H1 2018 bottom (+ 3% from 2018 lows), with share price consolidating into a ranging motion.

Broker consensus is positively biased, with 66% of analysts saying “Buy”, 28% neutral and only 5% saying “Sell”. Average broker target price of 7168p is far above current levels and an impressive 95% of brokers are projecting a medium-term upside from current share price levels.

Most recent broker update from Macquarie (27 June) is forecasting Randgold shares to rise above 2018 highs (7475p) and reach the level of 7600p in the medium term, last seen in September 2017.

Will Randgold go to 6475p February highs (+14%) or retreat below 5432p 2016 lows (-4%)?

Next Event: H1 Results, 9 August

Broker Consensus: 67% Buy, 28% Hold, 5% Sell
Bullish: CIBC Capital Markets, Outperform, Target 9500p, +67% (26 June 18)
Average Target: 7168p, +26% (27 June 18)
Bearish: RBC Capital Markets, Underperform, Target 4900p, -14% (26 June 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Sage Group (SGE)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Sage Group is a multinational enterprise software developer based in the UK. It is the third-largest developer of business IT applications in the world after Oracle and SAP, and one of the two IT companies on the UK 100 index of blue chips (with Micro Focus International).

Sage Group shares represent a potentially attractive Q3 investment opportunity as more investors are hunting for bargain deals. Shares are nearly 24% below their 2018 highs after company missed H1 revenue expectations. Since April, Sage has clawed back some of those losses, rising 16% from year’s lows and addressing many of the investor worries. With investors paying close attention to organic revenue growth, the upcoming Q3 Trading Update could serve as an important milestone for the company’s recovery.

With brokers evenly split between bulls (42%) and neutrals (42%), with bears making up the remaining 16%, a reassuring trading statement could induce some of the neutrals to upgrade their ratings. Three-quarters of all brokers project an upside from current prices, with an average target price (712p) 13% above current levels.

Will Sage Group return to 824p 2018 highs (+31%) or go back to April lows of 594p (-6%)?

Next Event: Q3 Trading Update, 2 August

Broker Consensus: 42% Buy, 42% Hold, 16% Sell
Bullish: Stifel, Buy, Target 826p, +31% (14 May 18)
Average Target: 712p, +13% (27 June 18)
Bearish: Day by Day, Sell, Target 510p, -19% (3 April 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

Shire (SHP)

Source: CMC Markets, 27 June 2018

Shire is a leading global biopharmaceutical company, with a speciality in treatment of rare diseases. The company is a lucrative target for takeover efforts from several international biotech companies, most recently by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda.

Recent share price performance of Shire reflected these takeover efforts, with the company’s shares on an uptrend since March (+38% from 2018 lows). Day to day, Shire stock price often reflects movements of Takeda shares in Japan, due to a large component of new Takeda stock in the bid. Much works remains ahead for Takeda in absorbing a company that is double its own size, with any funding snags (Takeda will take on new debt to fund the takeover) representing a measurable risk for Shire’s investors.

Brokers are generally upbeat on Shire’s prospects, with 66% of analysts recommending “Buy”, 30% neutrals and only 4% advocating for “Sell”. With an average medium-term target price of 4525p, a significant 70% of brokers see an upside from current price levels.

Will Shire rise to July 2017 4642p highs (+13%) or fall back to 3807p May lows (-7%)?

Next Event: H1 Results, 2 August

Broker Consensus: 66% Buy, 30% Hold, 4% Sell
Bullish: Société Générale, Buy, Target 7500p, +83% (24 May 18)
Average Target: 4525p, +11% (27 June 18)
Bearish: Day by Day, Sell, Target 2243p, -45% (4 May 18)

Pricing data sourced from Bloomberg on 27 June. Please contact us for a full, up to date rundown.

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Want to take advantage of the above opportunities right now?

Whether you see UK Stocks going up or down for the remainder of the year, tradable opportunities will present themselves regularly. We’re here to help you weed them out and capitalise on them. Accendo Markets can help you increase your profit potential with the use of leveraged instruments such as CFDs, a flexible alternative to traditional shares that is currently exempt from UK stamp duty.

CFDs: Like shares, but more flexible

While buying 9,561 shares in IQE @ 104.58p requires an outlay of around £10,000 plus commission, the same exposure via a CFD requires about £2000 plus commission (see right-hand box; margin + costs). If a trader invests in IQE, one would assume they believe the share price is likely to move in their favour. After considering the ‘worst case scenario’ and assigning funds to cover it, the trader may conclude there’s little point in exposing the full £10,000 to IQE shares - some of that capital could be put to good use elsewhere in the markets. (Source: CMC, Prices indicative)

CFDs are leveraged instruments, but you don’t have to use leverage

If you had, say, £10,000 to invest in the stock market, you could deposit that amount into a share dealing account and purchase shares in a company. You would pay commission to open the position, 0.5% in stamp duty and the full £10,000 will be tied up in your chosen shares with any profit or loss based on that exposure. The same £10,000 worth of exposure can be secured with a CFD for a fraction of the initial outlay thanks to leverage, with the risk and reward the same as if £10,000 worth of traditional shares were held. But should you not be interested in leverage, you can always treat CFDs like shares. Simply deposit £10,000 into a CFD trading account and take the equivalent CFD position which will tie up as little as 20%/£2000 (note that overnight financing costs will still apply). The remaining £8,000 is not tied up, so you can use some of that to take advantage of another short-term opportunity elsewhere, or simply leave it on the account to support any losses. Best of all, using a CFD means you pay no stamp duty!

What’s your view?

Think shares will rise? Take a long position by buying CFDs (buy low, aiming to sell high). Think they’ll fall? Take a short position by selling CFDs (sell high, aiming to buy low). For a more detailed rundown of CFDs, their mechanics, associated costs and some trading scenarios download our ‘Comprehensive Guide to CFDs’ here.

Page: 04

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To ensure you can act as quickly as possible, you’ll receive an email with a link to the latest publication as soon as it’s released. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.

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This research is produced by Accendo Markets Limited. Research produced and disseminated by Accendo Markets is classified as non-independent research, and is therefore a marketing communication. This investment research has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote its independence and it is not subject to the prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research. This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or offer to enter into a transaction or an investment, and is produced and distributed for information purposes only.

Accendo Markets considers opinions and information contained within the research to be valid when published, and gives no warranty as to the investments referred to in this material. The income from the investments referred to may go down as well as up, and investors may realise losses on investments. The past performance of a particular investment is not necessarily a guide to its future performance.

Prepared by Michael van Dulken, Head of Research
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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