3 Shares for the Week Ahead


LONDON -- Heading toward Christmas, there's nothing much in the way of company results coming our way next week, but we can look forward to some trading updates from a small handful of FTSE 100 (UKX) companies.

On Monday we'll have a pre-close trading update from Aggreko , the provider of temporary power generation and temperature control equipment.

Aggreko has a pretty impressive record of year-on-year increases in profits, without even the smallest blip during the credit crisis. In fact, if you'd bought Aggreko shares when the whole market tanked in 2009, you could have picked them up for around 360 pence -- and with the price today around 2,140 pence, you'd be sitting on a nice six-bagger.

At the time of Aggreko's third-quarter update in October, we learned that the firm is on for yet another year of growth. At the time, underlying revenues were up 13%, after a period of strong trading that was boosted by the London Olympics.

With performance in line with expectations, it's likely that current full-year forecasts won't be far wrong. If so, we should expect earnings per share to grow by more than 15%, to around 102 pence. That will put the shares on a price-to-earnings (P/E) forecast of over 20, so investors are clearly expecting Aggreko's strong run to continue over the next few years.

Tuesday brings us an update from Petrofac , ahead of its year-end on Dec. 31, and so far it's been a good year for the firm, which provides engineering and other services to the oil and gas industry.

In its October third-quarter update, Petrofac announced "good operational performance across our portfolio of Engineering, Construction, Operations & Maintenance and Integrated Energy Services projects in the year to date," and told us to expect full-year profit growth of at least 15%.

Even with the share price at 1,680 pence, up almost 20% over the past 12 months, forecasts still only put the shares on a P/E of a little over 14, falling to 13 for next year. With Petrofac having lifted its earnings per share every year throughout the economic downturn, it could be looking like a good long-term prospect.

The last in our FTSE 100 trio is Serco Group , which will bring us its pre-close update on Thursday. Serco's shares have been on a bit of a slide of late but, at 543 pence, the price is still around 20% up on the year.

The outsourcing company -- which provides services to governments, principally in the U.K. -- released its last interim update in November. And it was pretty similar to the other two -- business going well, improved profit on the cards, and performance nicely in line with expectations. Serco's order book was doing nicely too, with a further £1.4 billion in contracts having been won since the half-year stage in June, taking the total for the year to date to £5.4 billion.

And yet again, Serco hasn't blinked during the recession, and it joins the others in having grown its profits every year throughout. Forecast growth for this year is more modest, but the share price is on a relatively undemanding 13 for the full year, falling to 12 based on next year's forecasts.

If you had these three tucked away in your portfolios, you'd be doing very nicely.

Finally, the secret to becoming rich from shares is simple long-term investing in fundamentally sound companies, and letting steady growth and dividends power your wealth upwards.

That's why it's always worth keeping abreast of what news is coming our way each week, and doing some background research on promising-looking candidates.

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The article 3 Shares for the Week Ahead originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan Oscroft has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.

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