3 high-quality FTSE small-cap stocks I’d buy in this market crash

G A Chester reckons these three small-cap stocks have better ‘blue-chip’ credentials than many FTSE 100 companies!

| More on:

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More.

It’s an old stock market adage that FTSE 100 blue-chips are less risky than small-cap stocks. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Indeed, I’m convinced a few small-caps actually have stronger blue-chip credentials than some Footsie giants!

Regular Motley Fool readers will know I’ve been banging on for years in praise of the couple of dozen long-established family businesses listed on the UK stock market. Pubs group Fuller, Smith & Turner (LSE: FSTA), soft drinks firm Nichols (LSE: NICL), and lighting company FW Thorpe (LSE: TFW) are three such firms. Let me show you their blue-chip credentials, and why I’d be more than happy to buy them today.

Building long-term wealth

Strong balance sheets, and careful stewardship through multiple economic cycles and market crashes, are features of these businesses. I believe these qualities align well with the aims of investors seeking to steadily build wealth over the long term.

Furthermore, with a largely stable shareholder base of family members, and like-minded long-term investors, these companies’ share prices tend to hold up relatively well through the sort of market crash we’re currently experiencing.

The table below shows the performances of the FTSE 100, Fullers, Nichols, and Thorpe since markets went into free-fall after 21 February.

 

Price at 21 Feb

Price at 11 March

Change

FTSE 100

7,404

5,237

-29%

Fullers

914p

682p

-25%

Nichols

1,425p

1,350p

-5%

Thorpe

319p

274p

-14%

Seven decades of dividend growth

Fullers (founded 1845) owns premium pubs and hotels, as well as craft cider and gourmet pizza restaurant chain The Stable. As you can see, it’s outperformed the FTSE 100. This is despite it being in one of the sectors most heavily impacted by Covid-19 fears. For example, blue-chip Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn — and food and drink chains, including Brewers Fayre — has seen its shares plummet 46%.

Fullers has a strong, freehold property-backed balance sheet. Furthermore, the sale of its brewing business last year, with cash proceeds of over £200m, now looks very timely. The company has a remarkable dividend record of seven decades of unbroken growth. The running yield of 3% and price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 14 indicate value against historical standards. And the same is true for Nichols and Thorpe.

Defensive out-performer

Nichols (founded 1908) owns a portfolio of still and carbonated drinks brands, headed by its flagship brand Vimto. The superior performance of its shares (-5%) versus the FTSE 100 reflects the defensive characteristics of the business. Having said that, it’s also outperformed Footsie drinks giant Diageo (-23%), which is widely seen as an exemplar of blue-chip quality.

Nichols’ latest annual results show cash of £40.9m on the balance sheet at the year-end, and no debt. The cash-adjusted P/E is 17 and the running dividend yield is 3%.

Another cash-rich small-cap stock

FW Thorpe (founded 1936) designs, manufactures and supplies professional lighting systems. It serves diverse industries and customers. Nevertheless, it’s more geared to the general economic backdrop than a company like Nichols. In other words, it’s a cyclical rather than defensive business. Yet its shares (-14%) have significantly outperformed not only the FTSE 100 during this market crash, but also classy blue-chip sector peer Halma (-19%).

Thorpe is another cash-rich family business. It had £30.8m on its balance sheet and no debt at its last year-end. The cash-adjusted P/E is 17.8 and the running dividend yield is 2%.

Hopefully, you can now see why I believe Fullers, Nichols and Thorpe deserve to be called blue-chip small-caps.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

G A Chester has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo, Fuller Smith & Turner, Halma, and Nichols. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

More on Investing Articles

Newspaper and direction sign with investment options
Investing Articles

When cheap markets meet favourable conditions, sentiment flips very quickly

London’s stock market is cheap — some sectors, even cheaper. Given a change in sentiment, the uprating could be substantial.

Read more »

Investing Articles

Empty Stocks and Shares ISA? I’d snap up these 3 stocks to start with!

Sumayya Mansoor explains how she would start to build wealth from scratch with an empty Stocks and Shares ISA and…

Read more »

Concept of two young professional men looking at a screen in a technological data centre
Investing Articles

7.7% yield and going cheap! Why is this unknown FTSE 250 stock flying?

It's no household name, but there's one FTSE 250 stock with a high dividend yield and booming profits that looks…

Read more »

Photo of a man going through financial problems
Investing Articles

I’d stop staring at the Nvidia share price and buy this FTSE 100 stock instead

This writer reckons there is a smarter way to invest in Nvidia today without taking on stock-specific risk. Here is…

Read more »

Young lady working from home office during coronavirus pandemic.
Top Stocks

5 stocks that Fools have been buying!

Our Foolish freelancers are putting their money where their mouths are and buying these stocks in recent weeks.

Read more »

Young Asian man drinking coffee at home and looking at his phone
Dividend Shares

These 3 FTSE 250 stocks offer me the highest dividend yields, but should I buy?

Jon Smith considers FTSE 250 shares with a very high yield, but questions whether the income is going to be…

Read more »

View of Tower Bridge in Autumn
Investing Articles

Is FTSE 100 takeover target DS Smith a great buy?

A mega-merger between FTSE 100 giants DS Smith and Mondi has the City abuzz. But is there any value in…

Read more »

Young Black man sat in front of laptop while wearing headphones
Investing Articles

The WPP share price dips as profits fall. Here’s why it could be a top dividend buy

I'm starting to think the WPP share price undervalues the stock, especially if the long-term dividend outlook comes good.

Read more »