Are GlaxoSmithKline plc, Ashmore Group plc & Henderson Group Plc Today’s Barnstorming Buys?

Royston Wild takes a look at London headline-makers GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON: GSK), Ashmore Group plc (LON: ASHM) and Henderson Group Plc (LON: HGG).

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Today I’m considering the investment case for three FTSE-listed movers.

Asset manager marches lower

Emerging market-focused Ashmore Group (LSE: ASHM) has seen its share price move steadily lower in recent times. The stock is now dealing at a 44% discount to levels seen a year ago, the shares conceding a further 5% on Thursday following a worrying trading update.

Ashmore saw assets under management slip 16% between July and December, to $49.4bn, the result of chunky net outflows of $5.7bn and negative investment performance of $3.8bn. And worryingly, the business advised that “sentiment is likely to continue to be affected by the lower oil price and ongoing concerns about slowing global growth, particularly with respect to China.”

In this environment, the City expects Ashmore to endure a 23% earnings dip in the year to June 2016, although this still creates a reasonable P/E rating of 16.1 times.

It’s in the dividend stakes where the investment managers really stand out from the crowd, however. A projected payment of 17p per share creates a storming 6.8% yield, obliterating the FTSE 100 average around 3.5%.

Still, I reckon the risks over at Ashmore outweigh the potential rewards at the present time, and I reckon a combination of developing market weakness and renewed US dollar strength is likely to keep hitting fund performance.

Financial favourite urges caution

Fellow asset manager Henderson Group (LSE: HGG) also saw its share price rattle lower from Wednesday’s close, the business last dealing 6% lower on the day.

This is despite the company releasing broadly-positive full-year results. Henderson saw net retail inflows clock in at a record £8.5bn in 2015, a result that propelled total assets under management 13% higher to £92bn.

The number crunchers expect Henderson to record a 5% earnings advance in 2016, slowing down from the double-digit advances of previous years but still creating a decent-enough P/E multiple of 15.9 times. And an estimated dividend of 11.4p per share produces a meaty 3.8% yield.

But like Ashmore, shaky investor appetite could throw up troubles further down the line at Henderson, prompting the firm to announce “we will review our short-term plans if difficult market conditions persist.” While the firm’s global expansion drive is currently paying off handsomely, I believe difficult trading conditions could easily throw Henderson off course.

Drugs giant ready to rock

In times of extreme macroeconomic turbulence such as these, I believe medicines mammoth GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) could prove a canny stock selection for defensively-minded investors.

The Brentford firm hasn’t proved immune to the wider tsunami smacking global indices in Thursday trade however, and the business was last down 0.7% in Thursday’s session.

But sales of essential drugs like Dolutegravir for HIV and Nucala for asthma aren’t something that declines in line with wider movements in the global economy. Rather, a backcloth of rising populations and increased healthcare investment across the world is likely to keep fuelling medicines demand in the near term and beyond.

And with GlaxoSmithKline having chucked vast sums at its R&D operations to offset crushing patent losses, the City expects the company to get earnings moving again from 2016 onwards. Indeed, a 12% earnings rise is predicted for 2016, resulting in a P/E rating of 15.8 times. And a pledged yield of 80p per share gives an impressive 5.9%.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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