Shares in easyJet (LSE: EZJ) have fallen by around 2% today after it released passenger statistics for March. They showed the full impact of the French air traffic control strikes, with 611 flights being cancelled in total by the company (the majority were due to strike action). This caused easyJet’s load factor to fall by 1.3% to 91.3%, while its total number of passengers increased by 4.3% versus March 2015.
Clearly, easyJet is enduring a challenging period at the moment and as such its shares have fallen by 14% since the turn of the year. Although further external problems could lie ahead in the short run, easyJet continues to offer significant upside. For example, it trades on a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of just 10 even though it is forecast to record a rise in earnings of 7% this year and a further 15% next year. This puts it on a price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.7, which indicates that a turnaround is very much on the cards.
In addition, easyJet yields 4% from a dividend which is covered 2.5 times by profit. As such, a rapid rise in shareholder payouts seems rather likely over the medium to long term.
Also falling in 2016 have been shares in Vodafone (LSE: VOD). They are down by 1.5% since the turn of the year, although significantly better performance could lie ahead as a result of Vodafone’s new products and investment. For example, it is likely to benefit from cross-selling as it rolls out new products across Europe (such as broadband services here in the UK), while its recent investment in network capabilities should help it to retain customers and attract new ones moving forward.
With Vodafone forecast to increase its earnings by 22% this year and by a further 30% next year, it could become a must-have growth play. That’s in contrast to previous years when Vodafone was viewed as a quasi-utility with a solid yield. Now, though, Vodafone’s shares could deliver strong capital growth alongside their 5.3% yield, making now a good time to consider their purchase.
Meanwhile, Royal Mail (LSE: RMG) continues to offer rather disappointing earnings growth forecasts. For example, it is expected to deliver a rise in its bottom line of just 2% in 2016, followed by an increase of 5% next year. However, both of these figures are likely to be much better than the 10% fall in net profit which is due to be reported for the 2016 financial year just ended, with Royal Mail continuing to see a decline in its letters division.
However, with Royal Mail trading on a P/E ratio of just 12 and yielding 4.8%, it remains a relatively appealing value and income play. And with its parcels division and European operations providing a bright long term outlook, the challenging 2016 financial year may not be repeated. As such, Royal Mail could prove to be a strong long term buy.
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Peter Stephens owns shares of easyJet, Royal Mail, and Vodafone. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.