I have made no secret of my concerns over future earnings generation at Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) since last June’s EU referendum.
From looking like a solid-if-unspectacular profits creator, Lloyds’ top line now faces an uncertain future, as Britain’s decision to exit the European Union threatens to derail the domestic economy. And the Black Horse bank’s lack of any sizeable international presence leaves it without an outlet to offset these possible home troubles.
Sure, the UK economy may have remained resilient in the immediate aftermath of the summer’s vote. But signs of cooling retail spending, moderating business investment, and an erosion in services PMI (responsible for around two-thirds of British GDP) since the turn of the year all suggest that conditions are becoming tougher.
This trend could well continue, with the triggering of Article 50 set to unleash many months of economic turbulence.
Unlike Lloyds, however, I believe accommodation specialist InterContinental Hotels Group (LSE: IHG) is in great shape to enjoy resplendent earnings growth in the years ahead.
InterContinental Hotels saw underlying revenues advance 4.6% during 2016, to $1.58bn, a result that powered underlying operating profit 9.5% higher to $702m.
And the company sees plenty of scope for traveller numbers to keep pounding higher. InterContinental Hotels added 76,000 rooms to its pipeline last year, the largest number since 2008. A total of 230,000 of new rooms as of the close of last year represented an 8% year-on-year rise.
And the beds behemoth sees huge sales potential across the globe. In the US InterContinental Hotels saw revenues per available room (or RevPAR) increase 1.8% in 2016. I fully expect this to continue to increase as growth in the world’s largest economy clicks through the gears.
Looking further afield, while economic turbulence in the Middle East continues to be troublesome for the business, excluding this territory RevPAR in the Africa, Middle East and Asia (AMEA) region grew 3.8% last year, led by India, where revenues per room grew 14.1%.
InterContinental Hotels opened 4,000 new rooms in AMEA in 2016 alone to help it profit from the terrific long-term potential of these geographies.
Hot hot hot
I believe that international markets should also allow Wolseley (LSE: WOS) to generate serious earnings expansion in the years ahead.
The plumber this week announced plans to change its name to Ferguson, to reflect the massive earnings success of its US division. Chief executive John Martin commented that “Ferguson now accounts for 84% of Group trading profit and we have decided to align the Group’s name with our most significant brand in our largest market.”
US revenues grew 9.9% at constant currencies in 2016, to £5.76m, and the top line should keep on rising as construction rates Stateside pick up the pace. By comparison sales in the UK and Canada & Central Europe rose a more modest 1.5% and 1.6% respectively last year.
Furthermore, with Wolseley having decided to unshackle itself from Scandinavia by selling its Nordics business — sales at constant exchange rates here fell 0.7% year-on-year in 2016 — I reckon the business is in great shape to deliver excellent profits growth long into the future.