Today I’ll be discussing the outlook for speciality pharmaceuticals firm Shire, global building materials business CRH, and support services group Babcock International. Could this trio of blue chips be the best available growth stocks from within the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) today?
Fans of Shire (LSE: SHP) had plenty of reason to cheer this week as it announced strong interim results for the six months to the end of June. In fact, the company raised its full-year guidance after second quarter results revealed a forecast-beating 57% rise in sales. Shire also completed the $32bn acquisition of US-based rare disease drugs specialist Baxalta in June, and now expects operating cost synergies of $700m to be achieved by the third year following the deal.
The City is expecting great things from the group this year, with analysts talking about an impressive 86% rise in underlying earnings, followed by a further 19% improvement predicted for 2017. The Dublin-based group has a proven track record of earnings growth, and I feel next year’s earnings multiple of 13 doesn’t fully reflect the company’s outstanding growth prospects. In my opinion Shire offers plenty of upside potential for investors seeking capital growth within the pharmaceuticals sector.
Building an empire
Another FTSE 100 firm to lift its forecasts recently was building materials giant CRH (LSE: CRH). The company isn’t due to release it interim report for the first six months of the year until 25 August, but has indicated that it expects first-half earnings to be higher than previously expected as a result of exceptional trading in the latter part of Q2. The company now expects earnings to come in €100m higher at €1.1bn for the first half of 2016 – how’s that for an upgrade!
Shares in the Irish firm have certainly outperformed in recent months, gaining almost 30% in the six months since February, but I believe there’s plenty more to come. Indeed, market consensus suggests a 72% leap in profits for the full year to December, with a further 19% hike pencilled-in for 2017. This would leave the shares trading on a well-below-par earnings multiple of 15, and looking undervalued given the medium-term growth outlook.
A good start to the year
Meanwhile, the UK’s leading engineering support services group Babcock International (LSE: BAB) has stated that its long-term fundamentals remain unchanged despite uncertainty over the effects of Brexit, and says it remains confident of delivering continued growth. The new financial year has started well with 85% of projected revenue in place for FY2017, and 56% in place for FY2018.
The share price has experienced a strong pull-back since reaching all-time highs of £14 in 2014. I believe now could be a good time to grab a slice of the action with shares changing hands at below £10 and an undemanding P/E rating of just 11 for fiscal 2018.