3 ‘no-brainer’ FTSE 100 growth stocks to buy if markets keep falling

Paul Summers picks out three FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) growth stocks he’s got his eye on if the 2022 sell-off continues.

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As an investor looking to build his wealth over decades, I’m naturally drawn to quality growth stocks to buy and hold. The lure gets even stronger whenever I’m given a chance to load up at reduced prices. With geopolitical tensions rising, I think we could be entering such a period now. 

With this in mind, here are three top-tier titans I’ve got my eye on. 

Croda International

Shares in chemicals firm Croda International (LSE: CRDA) are down almost 30% year-to-date. That’s an awfully big drop for such a great company. While I’m not sure I’d buy just yet, I do get the sense that opportunity is knocking increasingly loudly. 

For the uninitiated, Croda has been around for almost a century. It produces ingredients for manufacturers in the home care, beauty, personal care, and fragrance market. It also operates in the Life Sciences space (providing solutions to protect crops, for example). I can’t see either of these markets ceasing to exist, even if Croda has struggled to grow profits recently. 

On the downside, the shares still look highly valued at 28 times forecast earnings. That’s a bit higher than the company’s five-year average P/E. With investors showing a penchant for (possibly-lower-quality) stocks on cheaper valuations right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more selling pressure ahead.

It’s a bit expensive for me at present, so it stays on my watchlist for now. 

Next

FTSE 100 clothing firm Next (LSE: NXT) is another company whose share price has been struggling. A 15% drop in 2022 so far leaves the stock sitting at a 52-week low and changing hands for just 12 times earnings. That’s a low valuation for a firm that has built a reputation for consistently great returns on capital and fat margins.

Then again, it’s worth considering the wider context. With higher prices pushing many in the UK to watch their non-essential spending, I wonder if things could get worse before they get better. Next month’s Q4 numbers will be pivotal in determining how much the business is suffering. Recent activity suggests investors are already bracing themselves for a few nasties.

Under the stewardship of Simon Wolfson, there’s no doubt in my mind that Next is one of the better companies in the FTSE 100. I’m also convinced it can and will bounce back from this sticky patch. 

Even so, I’m inclined to hold off buying for now. 

Auto Trader

A final FTSE 100 growth stock I’m keeping tabs on is Auto Trader (LSE: AUTO).

A beneficiary of the global shortage in semiconductors and, subsequently, new vehicles, buyers have been flocking to its site even more than usual. Indeed, the clamour for used motors sent the share price rocketing last November.

Unfortunately, the very same stock is down 14% year-to-date. Some profit-taking is understandable. Like Next, however, I wonder if demand could soften as inflation places huge pressure on discretionary incomes. That’s even if supply chain issues are resolved.

Having said this, a P/E of 25 is cheaper than digital peers such as Rightmove and considering its dominance of the industry in which it operates. As such, I’d be prepared to buy Auto Trader hand over fist if things get worse over the next few months. Just like this top investment trust.

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 considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

Paul Summers has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Auto Trader, Croda International, and Rightmove. 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.

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