One to watch: Homeserve

HOMESERVE sells insurance for home emergency repairs, with its network of tradesmen able to sort problems ranging from burst pipes and broken boilers, to broken electrical appliances and getting your locks changed.

Recent results highlighted three quarters of Homeserve's revenues were generated in the UK; the company is fast using the experience it has built up to develop overseas. Last year the firm doubled its revenue in the US to 52.6m and, having signed agreements with two US water utilities, expects further developments.

A closer look at the figures showed revenue rising 27 per cent over the past year and a 3 per cent increase in pre-tax profit. The core UK business continues to grow, with customer numbers increasing by 14 per cent and retention levels remaining encouraging. The cold snap in December was neither hugely positive nor negative, with a slight increase in policy sales offset by the cost of dealing with claims and repairs.

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Whilst the shares look a little expensive, trading at 19 times earnings, the company will hope that continued expansion overseas leads to a substantial increase in the number of policy holders and helps to drive growth.


526.5p +1.5p

Scotsman says BUY

• The value of your investment could fall and you may get back less than you invested. Take professional advice if you have any doubt about the suitability of this company for your portfolio.



146.9p +1.9p

Broker says BUY

BOOKMAKER Ladbrokes has been upgraded from "hold" to "buy" by Peel Hunt, which raised its target price from 143p to 168p. The broker said: "We believe the market could be significantly undervaluing the retail operations of Ladbrokes and William Hill. We see increased value in their online operations."


160.2p +1.3p

Broker says BUY

RBS Equities has raised its target price on mobile phone network operator Vodafone from 168p to 175p following a review of its recent performance. But the broker still thinks that the consensus estimates for Vodafone's businesses in Italy and Spain are too high, with continuing pressure in European markets.