Since my last recommendation in June, the share price of Wolseley (LSE: WOS) has climbed 30% after yet another year of impressive growth. The world’s top supplier of heating and plumbing products increased its underlying profits by 8% in fiscal 2016, making it a total increase of 47% since 2012. But with the share price having more-than-doubled over the same period, is it now too late for new investors to jump on the bandwagon?
Favourable currency movements
In its first quarter trading update, the international giant reported a 5.2% rise in revenue at constant exchange rates to £4.4bn, including like-for-like growth of 1.8%. Trading profit came in 1.4% higher than the same period the previous year at £303m, helped by one extra trading day which accounted for an additional £6m in profit. Favourable currency movements during the period helped to increase revenue by £599m and trading profit by £48m.
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In the US where the group generates around two-thirds of its revenues, like-for-like revenue growth was 4.2%, with commercial and residential markets continuing to perform well. However, other markets were more challenging, with weakness in the UK heating market and a deterioration in Nordic construction markets.
It’s clear that the fortunes of Wolseley are tied to the performance of the US housing sector, which at the moment seems to be holding up well. With its focus on managing costs and productivity while maintaining margins and improving customer service, I feel there is an even brighter future ahead for the group.
Our friends in the City seem to agree with my bullish take on the company, with analysts anticipating an 18% rise in underlying earnings for the current financial year to the end of July, with a further 9% improvement pencilled-in for next year. This leaves Wolseley trading on a undemanding P/E rating of 16.6, dropping to 15.2 by FY 2018.
The Trump effect
Another FTSE 100 stock that is highly geared to the US housing market is CRH (LSE: CRH). The Dublin-based building materials group has performed remarkably well in recent years, managing to turn pre-tax losses of €215m into a €1,033m profit in the space of just two years. And it has increased underlying earnings by an incredible 50% over the same period.
Full-year results for 2016 are due to be announced on Wednesday, and the City is expecting a very strong performance from the group. Analysts’ consensus forecasts suggest a 73% rise in earnings to €1,085m for the year just ended, with further rises of 21% and 14% expected over the next two years.
I for one won’t be surprised to see CRH live up to the ambitious forecasts, especially if President Trump delivers on his promise of increased spending on infrastructure, from which the company is well positioned to benefit. Despite trading close to all-time highs, the forward P/E ratio stands at a reasonable 17 times earnings, falling to 15 next year. In my opinion CRH remains a buy for continued growth.