Orica Ltd shares rocket: Are they a buy?

Credit: Jim Frazier

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) may be dropping lower today, but that hasn’t stopped the shares of Orica Ltd (ASX: ORI) from rocketing higher.

In afternoon trade the shares of the manufacturer and distributor of commercial blasting systems are up a remarkable 9% to $17.03.

The reason for the rampant buying of its shares is the release this morning of its full year results. The company swung from a statutory loss of $1,267 million in FY 2015, to a statutory net profit after tax of $343 million. On a per share basis this equates to 92 cents in earnings per share

This was all the more impressive considering the difficult environment the company has operated in this year. Lower market demand, unfavourable weather conditions, pricing pressures, and the loss of a contract in Chile have all had a negative impact on operations.

Despite this earnings before interest and tax came in at $642 million, just 6% lower than in FY 2015. Which I feel was a strong result, all things considered.

Another pleasing aspect of the result was its capital expenditures. In its interim results management guided to capex of $320 million, but ultimately capex was just $263 million. It wasn’t just capex where savings were made. Business improvements delivered incremental net benefits of $76 million.

In addition to this management has been paying down debt. Net debt now stands at $1,549 million, down from $2,026 million at the end of FY 2015.

A final dividend of 29 cents per share was declared, representing a full year payout of 49.5 cents per share. This partially franked dividend equates to a 3% yield at the current share price.

Overall I feel this was a strong result. So with management providing a reasonably positive outlook for FY 2017, it isn’t too surprising to see its shares rally.

At 18x full year earnings it may be priced in line with industry peer Incitec Pivot Ltd (ASX: IPL), but I wouldn’t necessarily class either as being cheap. As good as the company’s results were, I think there are better options out there for investors.

Instead of an investment in Orica I would suggest these fantastic growth shares. Each has strong and reliable earnings growth behind them, and a real chance of bolting higher in the months ahead in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro 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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