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While the world wrestles with the impact of Covid, inflation and geopolitical strife, investors are naturally wondering what lies in store for some of the country's largest quoted companies, such as Diploma (LON:DPLM).
Diploma is an important stock because it's one of just 200 shares in the UK market valued at more than £1.0 billion (its market cap is £2,735m).
Large-caps like this play an influential role in the performance of investment funds and pension portfolios held by millions of savers. For that reason, they are also closely watched by professional analysts, who usually understand their businesses better than most.
So how have the shares performed over the past year?
On a 12 month basis, the Diploma share price has seen an absolute move of -23.6%. On a relative basis - which take into account the movement of the wider market - the shares have moved by -21.3% over the past year and by -29.7% over the past six months.
But what now?
Do analysts rate it as a buy, sell or hold?
Regardless of recent performance, the main question is what the future holds. In uncertain economic conditions, it's often difficult to get an accurate view. The good news is that analysts generally have a solid understanding of the market's biggest businesses, so they are well-placed to make predictions. That shows up in their Buy, Hold and Sell recommendations.
Among the analysts covering Diploma, there are currently:
3 Buy recommendations
3 Hold recommendations
0 Sell recommendations
With this kind of information, it's possible to start forming a view about the outlook for any share. A combination of recent price performance and analyst recommendations gives you a flavour of whether the market is expecting a bright future - or whether there are causes for concern.
What does this mean for potential investors?
Diploma is one of the most closely watched shares in the market. But while price trends and broker recommendations can give you an idea about the sentiment around a stock, they can't tell you everything.
To get a better understanding of the overall investment case, it's worth doing some investigation yourself. Indeed, we've identified some areas of concern with Diploma that you can find out about here.