As we race towards Thursday’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, the London stock market seems as if it has been in a held-back state for several months.
I don’t believe the companies I’m holding will suffer in the medium-to-long term, and quite possibly not in the short term either. The next couple of days — before the result of the referendum — could prove to be a good time to buy a few shares in well-run, soundly-financed and growing businesses. So let’s look at ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM), BTG (LSE: BTG) and Tasty (LSE: TAST).
Developing new lines of growth
April’s first-quarter results from FTSE 100 microchip designer ARM Holdings showed revenue up 14% year-on-year and earnings per share up 15%. A string of small bolt-on acquisitions should help the firm to create new products to capture opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT).
The recent purchase of Apical is a good example. Apical’s advanced imaging products are used in more than 1.5bn smartphones and around 300m other consumer or industrial devices such as IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.
ARM has captured the chip market for smartphones and other mainstream devices and I think the firm’s proactive approach should keep it in the forefront of new technological trends as they develop.
At today’s share price around 1,013p, ARM’s forward price-to-earnings (P/E) rating is just over 25 for 2017. That’s not a cheap valuation but it’s lower than for some time. If the firm develops the new areas of growth it hopes, investors may be glad in the end that they bought shares at today’s levels.
Driving forward on several fronts
Specialist healthcare mid-cap company BTG operates in a defensive sector, has a good record of successful execution and enjoys a strong balance sheet with surplus cash and zero borrowings.
May’s full-year results confirmed strong ongoing progress with underlying revenue growth of 14% year-on-year and earnings per share up 39%. The company is driving forward with several product lines, seeking expansion both organically and with its acquisition programme.
The recent share price of 640p puts BTG on a forward P/E ratio of just over 20 for the year to March 2018. But set against City analysts’ expectations for around 31% growth in earnings that year, the valuation looks fair for such potential.
A fast-growing rollout
UK-focused restaurant rollout proposition Tasty is perhaps the most vulnerable of these three firms to post-referendum shocks (if there are any). Any recession that develops could hurt the company’s operations and shares in the short term. However, I’m optimistic that the strength of the business model and the experience of the company’s management team will drive a positive medium-to-long term outcome for investors from here, whichever way the EU vote goes.
The expansion of Tasty’s restaurants, mostly branded Wildwood, goes from strength to strength, and the shares have done well over the last few years. Today’s 177p share price values the company at just over 16 times the earnings City analysts expect during 2017. That doesn’t look bad when set against likely earnings uplifts of 62% this year and 46% next year. Tasty’s trading formula works and growth looks set to continue.