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2 stocks at 52-week highs that could still be worth buying

Investing is a tough game. It isn’t a science and there’s no formula that will reliably reel in the cash every time. Guru Peter Lynch explains: “In this business, if you’re good, you’re right six times out of 10. You’re never going to be right nine times out of 10.

Luck plays a large role in investing and all we investors can do is stack the deck in our favour. This uncertainty places the investor under very relatable stress and it can be hard to prevent our emotional responses from destroying our hard-earned savings. 

For example, we’re trained to seek out dirt-cheap stocks on low P/Es, but counter-intuitively, this could be a terrible mistake because the most successful stocks hit new highs day after day.

Shares in Britvic (LSE: BVIC) and Clinigen (LSE: CLIN) are both around 52-week highs, but I believe they could be great long-term investments at today’s prices. 

Britvic is still fizzing

Britivic’s strong brands, including Robinsons and Tango, have carried the shares 140% higher over the last five years. Shareholders have collected healthy dividends along the way too and the shares currently offer a yield of 3.3%. The company has thrashed the market recently and I believe it can continue to do so despite the shares sitting at a 52-week high.  

The company’s proven ability to increase both price and the volume of beverages sold could continue to be a very potent combination in the long run. The company increased volumes by a solid 2.3% and the average realised price of these sales jumped 2.9%. In total, revenue grew 6.5% in Q3. That figure falls to 4.3% if you ignore the acquisition of Brazilian Bela Ischia back in March. 

The company’s margins have fallen a little recently, but this is largely due to exceptional costs relating to the aforementioned acquisition and the company’s ongoing cost reduction programme. The shares trade on a PE of 17, a fair price for a wonderful business. I don’t expect Britvic to lose its pop anytime soon. 

Clinigen can cope with debt burden

Clinigen’s full-year trading update detailed a company at the top of its game. Revenues grew around 7% and as a result gross profit jumped an impressive 22%. The company provides comparator medicines to clinical trials, acquires neglected treatments and revitalises them, and also helps patients get their hands on potentially life-saving pre-licensed or unlicensed drugs.

Recent strong performance saw the company reduce net debt from £70.9m in December 2016 to £35m in July although it is set to pay a roughly-£40m deferred consideration in October for a past acquisition. The company has also submitted an indicative proposal regarding a possible offer for Quantum Pharma, so this could see debt rise further. 

Investors should keep an eye on the debt pile, but I believe sector tailwinds like ageing populations, a rapid increase in the number of drug trials in action at any given time, and increasing concerns about counterfeit drugs, along with Clinigen’s unique understanding of regulatory framework and expertise in gathering real-world data, could be a recipe for success. 

A Cheap Alternative

Sometimes it's best to steer clear of traditionally 'cheap' stocks, but I'm not advocating the wholesale avoidance of such companies. Remember, there is no rule that fits every situation in investing. 

If you remain unconvinced about the momentum behind these growth companies, perhaps you'd be more interested in a fast-growing stock with a P/E of only 7. One of our analysts describes it as a "high-quality business run by an operations-savvy, value-focused founding management team."

While you wait for the value to out, there's also a 3.2% yield on offer at today's prices. To read the full investment thesis behind this company, click here.

Zach Coffell has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Britvic. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Clinigen. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes