What should growth investors buy for 2017?

Royston Wild looks at three of London’s hottest growth picks for 2017… and beyond.

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Takeaway giant Just Eat’s (LSE: JE) share price moved to fresh record peaks last week on the back of exciting acquisition news. And I believe the culinary colossus has what it takes to keep pounding higher.

Just Eat announced plans to purchase British rival hungryhouse for up to £240m to bolster its share of the fast-growing online takeaway market, creating “an enlarged customer base for restaurant partners to access, while increasing the breadth of choice on offer to UK consumers through Just Eat’s platform.”

The business also snapped up Canadian food delivery service SkipTheDishes for an initial consideration of £66.1m.

Such aggressive international expansion is helping to propel Just Eat’s top line, and the firm saw total orders gallop 34% higher during July-September, to £33.3m. And I believe Just Eat’s appetite for expanding its global presence should continue to deliver tasty returns — the business has bought businesses in Spain, Italy, Brazil and Mexico in 2016 alone.

The City expects Just Eat to follow a 74% earnings surge in 2016 with a 48% advance next year. And while the latter projection results in a heady P/E ratio of 33.9 times, a sub-PEG ratio — at just 0.7 — suggests the business is, in fact, attractively valued relative to its anticipated growth trajectory

Medical marvel

I also reckon healthcare giant Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN) is a splendid pick for growth chasers.

The firm is at the forefront of artificial limb and joint design and has honed in on explosive niches like Sports Medicine Joint Repair through organic investment and shrewd acquisitions to deliver earnings expansion. And with good reason — sales in this one segment surged 8% during July-September.

And Smith & Nephew can also rely on its massive global footprint to keep sales chugging higher. Turnover from the gigantic US marketplace climbed 2% during the quarter, while demand in emerging regions bumped 6% higher with China returning to growth.

The number crunchers expect Smith & Nephew’s long run of positive earnings growth to grind to a halt in 2016, and a 3% decline is currently anticipated. But this is expected to be a mere blip and a chunky 9% advance is expected for 2017.

This results in a P/E ratio of 16.4 times which, although peeking above the FTSE 100 average of 16.6 times, is great value in my opinion as healthcare investment the world over shoots through the roof.

Car star

I believe the ambitious expansion plans of specialist finance provider S&U (LSE: SUS) also make it one of the hottest growth prospects out there.

Business activity at S&U’s Advantage Finance motor finance division continues to bubble higher, and customer numbers here surged 34% between August 1 and December 7.

And the financial goliath is zeroing in on other markets to generate growth. Indeed, S&U is set to launch its Aspen Bridging Finance property bridging loan pilot in the coming months, and could really light a fire under the top line. S&U estimates that the property-backed bridging loan market is currently worth £5bn and is set to double by the end of the decade.

The City expects S&U to get earnings moving higher again following a 14% earnings fall in the year to January 2016 — rises of 28% and 20% are expected for fiscal 2017 and 2018.

And these figures create mega-low P/E ratios of 12.9 times and 10.8 times respectively. With PEG ratings also clocking in at 0.5 through to end-2018, I reckon S&U merits serious attention at current prices.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. 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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