There’s always something to worry about in the world of investing, and when stock markets retreat those worries tend to leap to the front of my mind!
However, rather than trying to get my head around macro-economic forecasting, I like to focus on what individual companies are saying about their own prospects.
It’s a well-worn path, and taking advantage of lower share prices in pessimistic markets can lead to some of the best returns over the long haul.
Ubiquitous intellectual property
ARM Holdings’ shares tend to wiggle around a bit at the best of times, but at today’s 969p or so, they are down around 15% from the peak they hit in early December.
I’m used to ARM reporting double-digit growth figures for revenue and profits, which the firm did again with its most recent reporting period back in October. The chip designer occupies a powerful position in its market, and the long-term potential of the business seems undiminished.
The chief executive’s outlook statement in the Autumn could not have been more bullish: “ARM technology is being deployed in an increasingly diverse range of products and markets, from the ubiquitous sensors that will form the Internet of Things, to energy-efficient smart phones, to high-performance servers. With the broadening adoption of ARM technology, we are continuing to invest in developing new products and revenue streams to support long-term growth and returns for shareholders.”
ARM is very far from being a company on its knees. Any share-price weakness now is surely an opportunity to gain a better value entry into the firm’s longer-term growth potential.
At today’s 303p, concrete and landscaping products supplier Marshalls’ shares are around 20% off the peak they achieved in September.
The firm sells around 66% of its output to the commercial and public sector markets and the rest to the domestic market. In December, the firm revised its expectations for full-year trading upwards, saying, “The Group continues to experience robust order intake alongside encouraging sales growth in its main end markets and overall trading momentum continues to be positive.”
It’s true that Marshalls’ business has a large element of cyclicality, but cyclical businesses do not peak and trough all at the same time. Marshalls’ trading cycle is much different from that of a large mining company, for example. Right now, there is no sign of weakening demand for Marshalls’ products; if anything, demand is increasing and that should work well alongside the firm’s self-declared operational gearing to drive investor total returns from here.
Still rolling fast
Tasty’s rollout programme for its successful chain of restaurants — mostly branded Wildwood — goes from strength to strength, and that’s why the shares have done so well over the last few years. However, at today’s 173p, the shares are down about 12% since peaking in December.
With low oil prices putting money into people’s pockets, and improving wage levels, I find it hard to look ahead five years and imagine that the economy will have stuffed up Tasty’s growth programme.
There’s no sign of financial distress here. In October, the firm’s chairman said, “The Group continues to expand its operations through new openings. Actions are regularly taken to improve profitability at all sites, increasing sales through updated menus and improving food and labour margins”.
Tasty’s trading formula is working well and the firm is set on duplicating it over and over in the years to come. Any share price weakness strikes me as a good opportunity as long as I keep a five-year-plus investment horizon in mind.