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Is it time to buy Amcor Limited or Fortescue Metals Group Limited shares?

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With the recent reporting season behind us, the number of shares hitting new 52-week lows each week has slowed to a trickle. Previous winners continue to soar, and a number of companies making acquisitions have been bought into heavily in recent weeks, perhaps suggesting that earnings growth is increasingly prized by investors.

Here’s this week’s 52-week highs and my take on whether they’re still a buy today:

Amcor Limited (ASX: AMC) – last traded at $15.31, up 6% in the past 12 months

Amcor shares surged earlier this week after the company announced a US$400 million acquisition of a South American packaging business, with operations in Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Argentina. The deal is expected to deliver a modest uplift in profit as well as increase Amcor’s exposure to emerging economies. Equally importantly, the acquired company is expected to reach annual returns on cash invested of 20% in the next five years, playing an important role in maintaining earnings for shareholders.

Like Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB), Amcor is focussing on lifting its return on invested capital to ensure earnings remain attractive. While I do not think the business is a bargain today, it is a solid defensive share for patient investors, and will likely go on to justify today’s price.

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) – last traded at $3.62, up 94% in the past 12 months

Fortescue shares have soared as a result of rising iron ore prices in recent months, which are apparently a result of increased infrastructure investment announced by the Chinese government. The heavily indebted company has more than doubled from lows of $1.44, as rising ore prices vastly decreased the risk of the company defaulting on its debt. However, at today’s prices, Fortescue looks fully valued and I would consider selling my shares, if I had some.

Investors must consider the outlook for steel/iron ore production and evaluate the likelihood of prices heading significantly higher from here. Although iron ore prices recorded another big jump overnight, I am quite bearish on Fortescue shares over the next 12 months or so. As a result of Fortescue’s leverage, investors should expect it to fall more heavily than Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) or BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) if prices reverse.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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