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Are further gains likely for Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, Boohoo.Com plc & Fevertree Drinks plc?

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Investors looking for safe returns have helped drive shares of consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser Group (LSE: RB) up by 23% over the last year. The shares currently trade close to their all-time high of £70.

Can these gains continue? In the short term, the shares may continue to rise. And I don’t expect Reckitt’s sales or profits to collapse anytime soon. However, the whole point of stock picking is to try and beat the market. Paying too much for a share can make this difficult.

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Reckitt shares currently trade on a 2016 forecast P/E of 25 and offer a forecast yield of just 2.1%. Although forecasts for 2016 and 2017 suggest that earnings per share should rise by about 8.5% per year, this may not be enough to enable Reckitt to continue beating the market.

Forecasts indicate that earnings for the FTSE 100 as a whole are expected to rise by about 12% over the next year. By buying the FTSE 100, I could also enjoy a yield of 4%. That’s nearly twice the 2.1% yield on offer from Reckitt.

Personally, I’d wait for a dip in the market before buying anymore shares in Reckitt Benckiser.

This stock is really delivering

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.Com (LSE: BOO) has delivered average earnings per share growth of 145% per year over the last six years.

The firm’s high octane sales and profit growth aren’t its only attractions. Boohoo has no debt and reported net cash of £58.3m at the end of last year, despite investing in expansion. Measured against this kind of performance, Boohoo.Com’s 2017 forecast P/E of 38 isn’t necessarily too expensive.

Boohoo appears to have gained enough scale to build a popular brand and maintain high levels of marketing expenditure. Earnings per share are expected to rise by 28% this year and by 23% in 2017/18.

I probably wouldn’t invest in Boohoo at its current price, but I reckon any short term dips could be a good opportunity to buy more. I certainly wouldn’t sell yet, as these shares could easily rise much further.

How can soft drinks be so profitable?

Skilfully-marketed soft drinks — or rather premium mixers — have been the driving force behind the meteoric 330% rise of Fevertree Drinks (LSE: FEVR) since its IPO in November 2014.

The firm’s earnings are expected to rise by 42% to 16.3p per share this year, while its dividend is expected to rise by 25% to 3.9p. The only problem is that with the shares on a 2016 forecast P/E of 45 and a prospective yield of 0.5%, a lot of growth is already in the price.

Forecasts already suggest that sales will rise from £59.3m in 2015 to £89.9m in 2017. The potential size of the market for high-priced premium mixers is unclear to me. What is clear is that Fever-Tree’s 29% operating margin seems likely to attract fresh competition.

Although the firm’s most recent trading update indicated profits are likely to be ahead of expectations this year, one reason for this was exchange rate effects. These can easily reverse.

Earnings growth is also expected to slow from 40%+ to less than 15% in 2017. In my view a correction is likely at some point. Even though further gains are possible, buying now could be risky.

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Roland Head has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Reckitt Benckiser. 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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