Best British shares to buy in April

We asked our writers to share their ‘best of British’ stocks to buy this month, including a double nomination for a Footsie stalwart.

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.

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Every month, we ask our freelance writers to share their top ideas for shares to buy with investors — here’s what they said for April!

[Just beginning your investing journey? Check out our guide on how to start investing in the UK.]

Alpha Group International

What it does: Alpha Group provides currency risk management and alternative banking solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises worldwide.

By Zaven Boyrazian. Alpha Group International (LSE:ALPH) continues to impress with its innovative fintech solutions. What started as a foreign exchange risk management business is rapidly evolving into a complete alternative digital banking suite.

Today its FX risk management division serves just over 1,000 clients. But despite only being launched a few years ago, its alternative banking division has been adopted by 4,200 businesses – more than double versus 2021.

The firm continues to fend off fierce competition, especially from traditional corporate banks with far superior resources. However, Alpha Group seems to be putting up a good fight, with revenue and profits climbing by double-digits across the board as it slowly takes market share.

With no debt on its balance sheet and a growing international footprint, the firm looks like it’s just kicked off an explosive long-term growth story. That’s why it’s one of the largest positions in my portfolio.

Zaven Boyrazian owns shares in Alpha Group International.

Ashtead

What it does: Ashtead is an international equipment rental company that operates in the US, the UK, and Canada.

By Edward Sheldon, CFA. Ashtead (LSE: AHT) shares have had a pullback recently and I think this is a good buying opportunity for investors.

A recent Q3 trading update showed that the company has momentum right now. For the first nine months of the current financial year (ending 30 April), group revenue was up 25% year on year. Growth was driven by US mega projects, with US rental revenue up 27% year on year.

On the back of this encouraging trading update, analysts at Jefferies raised their price target from 6,000p to 7,000p. That price target is about 40% higher than the current share price.

An obvious risk here is a sharp economic downturn in the US. If the nation was to experience a deep recession and construction came to a halt, Ashtead would most likely be impacted negatively.

I’m comfortable with this risk, however. Overall, I think the risk/reward setup is attractive.

Edward Sheldon owns shares in Ashtead

Associated British Foods

What it does: Associated British Foods is a global food, ingredients and retail provider.

By Gordon Best. With a diverse range of essential products, Associated British Foods (LSE:ABF) is in a strong position to succeed through uncertain economic conditions.

It is good value compared to competitors, with a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 21, below the food industry average of 30. When considering a discounted cash flow model, the company may have further growth ahead, with the current share price of 19,02p nearly 20% below the fair value of 23,71p. Short- and long-term debts are sustainable, and the dividend is a healthy 2.3%, growing for the last 10 years.

Future earnings growth of 10.2% is slightly below the UK market average of 10.5%. However, with widespread uncertainty, I value growing companies with solid fundamentals making essential products. 

The management team has an average tenure of 18 years, and major shareholders have recently been buying more shares than they have been selling, demonstrating confidence in future performance.  

Gordon Best does not own shares in Associated British Foods.

BHP Group

What it does: BHP Group is a multinational mining and petroleum company that extracts and processes iron ore, copper, coal, nickel, zinc, uranium, and other metals.  

By Mark Tovey. UK investors are spoiled for choice when it comes to FTSE 100 mining companies, with six high-quality multinationals on offer. Based on the financials, BHP Group (LSE:BHP) is my pick. 

BHP is trading at an attractive ratio of just nine times free cash flow – lower than all its FTSE 100 peers, with the exception of Glencore.  

In addition, BHP’s total debt to tangible book value ratio is just 39% compared with, for example, Anglo American’s 59%. That gives BHP more flexibility than all of its peers to survive lean times. Investors in natural resource companies like BHP need to have a strong stomach for price swings. 

But the metals business is an essential and growing one. The world consumes the equivalent of 500 Eiffel Towers’ worth of metals a day. That massive demand is expected to skyrocket in the coming decade with the rollout of green technologies. I own shares in BlackRock World Mining, which has BHP as its biggest holding. 

Mark Tovey owns shares in BlackRock World Mining.

Centamin 

What it does: Centamin produces gold from Egypt’s Sukari mine and owns exploration assets elsewhere in Africa. 

By Royston Wild. Piling into classic flight-to-safety assets might be a good idea as the banking sector shakes. One way investors can do this is by buying shares in gold producer Centamin (LSE:CEY). 

Bullion demand comes alive when economic crises come along. The yellow metal’s surge back above $2,000 per ounce in March is evidence of this. 

This in turn has pulled the share prices of miners like Centamin higher. And I believe the low earnings multiple of this particular operator leaves scope for even further gains. Today the African digger trades on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 7.1 times. 

Signs of fresh stress for the world’s banks could drag gold higher. So could hints that central banks will stop hiking interest rates or even cut their benchmarks to calm turbulent markets. Such an event might mean that inflation remains higher for longer, one of the strongest drivers of gold prices. 

Royston Wild does not own shares in Centamin. 

Diageo

What it does: Diageo is an alcoholic beverage company. It owns over 200 brands and has sales in more than 180 countries. 

By Paul Summers. The last few weeks have heaped yet more pressure on company share prices and, consequently, more misery on already-battered investors. Since things might still get worse before they get better, my pick for April is an old favourite with solid defensive credentials.

Sure, Diageo (LSE:DGE) isn’t the cheapest stock to buy (a forecast price-to-earnings ratio of 21). However, it’s a company that has shown itself adept at riding out crises. Regardless of what happens next in the new banking ‘crisis’, people will still drink. And when the good times return, they’ll want to enjoy themselves.

Interestingly, the shares are still down from where they were 12 months ago — I’d say this is an opportunity to buy.   

The 2.2% dividend yield is modest but safe. That’s more than you can say for some of Diageo’s FTSE 100 peers.

Paul Summers does not own shares in Diageo.

Experian

What it does: Experian is a credit bureau. It provides data and consumer information to lenders, most notably banks.

By Stephen Wright. Experian (LSE:EXPN) shares are currently at their lowest levels since the start of the year — I think this could be a good buying opportunity.

In my view, Experian is one of the strongest businesses in the UK. It has a strong competitive position, low operating costs, and provides a service that its customers need.

The company’s economic moat comes from the huge database it uses in its reports. This is virtually impossible for a competitor to replicate from scratch.

As a data and analytics business, Experian doesn’t cost much to run. Around 90% of the company’s operating income becomes free cash available to shareholders.

Lastly, most US mortgages require a tri-merge report, which includes an Experian report. As such, the company provides a service that is basically essential to mortgage lending. 

I’m looking to take advantage of a rare chance to buy the stock at a decent price in April.

Stephen Wright does not own shares in Experian.

Legal & General

What it does: Legal & General is an asset manager and financial services provider based in the UK and operating internationally.

By Christopher Ruane. The financial services company Legal & General (LSE: LGEN) has a long history, providing reassurance to customers in turbulent times. But over the years it has reshaped its business and focused on where it believes it can perform strongly. That is reflected in the company’s post-tax profit margins, which last year were almost 17%.

A strong brand, large customer base and resilient demand for financial services should help the firm. Yet it trades on a price-to-earnings ratio of just 6. I see a risk that turbulent financial markets could lead to customers withdrawing funds, hurting profits. The share price has fallen 15% in the past year.

Legal & General has been a fairly regular dividend raiser, growing its payout per share 5% last year. The current yield is 8.4%. If I had spare cash to invest, I would buy the shares for my ISA this April.

Christopher Ruane does not own shares in Legal & General.

Lloyds

What it does: Lloyds is the UK’s largest mortgage provider. It’s also one of the nation’s biggest banks with over 30m customers.

By John Choong. Bank stocks may be falling out of favour as the recent collapses of SVB, Signature, and Credit Suisse have sparked contagion fears. However, I believe the recent dip in Lloyds (LSE:LLOY) shares could present a buying opportunity for a couple of reasons.

The first being that Lloyds and its British rivals are subject to much stricter capital regulations and buffers, as they’re under the scope of a more stringent regulatory bodies. As such, Lloyds boasts extremely robust CET1, liquidity coverage, and countercyclical (CCLB) ratios, which should shield it from a meltdown.

MetricsLloyds
CET1 ratio15.1%
Liquidity coverage ratio144%
CCLB ratio0.3%
Data source: Lloyds

Additionally, the Black Horse bank has a less-risky deposit base, as the percentage of risk-weighted assets on its portfolio are comparably lower than its fallen competitors. Moreover, a substantial amount of its customers’ deposits are insured, meaning that a bank run is unlikely to cause massive liquidity issues.

Although Lloyds’ valuation multiples aren’t necessarily the cheapest among its FTSE 100 peers, I believe the risk-reward proposition still presents great value given its recent decline.

MetricsLloydsIndustry Average
P/B value0.60.7
P/E ratio6.09.0
FP/E ratio6.45.5

Data source: Google Finance

John Choong has positions in Lloyds

Ocado

What it does: Ocado is an online retailer that pioneers tech solutions including its proprietary automated warehouses.

By John Fieldsend. Online retailer Ocado (LSE: OCDO) offers some of the most exciting technology I’ve seen come out of this country. And I wasn’t the only one who saw its robots zipping about a futuristic warehouse and saw incredible potential. The firm’s valuation went sky-high. 

In early 2021, the grocer had a larger market cap than FTSE 100 giant and competitor Tesco despite not having a single store. The share price has come down considerably since then. It’s £4.19 today, a fall of around 85% from 2020. 

The reason for the fall in share price is likely that Ocado is yet to be profitable and, in fact, still loses money on every order.  As the Financial Times put it, “the company has effectively been paying approximately £23 per order for its customers not to go to the shops”.  

Personally, I’m excited about the potential and see it as a good price to buy in. This is why I opened a position a week ago. 

John Fieldsend owns shares in Ocado.

Shell

What it does: Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies, employing 93,000 people and with operations in more than 70 countries.

By Andrew Mackie. Like so many commodities producers, the Shell (LSE: SHEL) share price has fallen heavily recently. However, for me, the fundamentals haven’t changed at all.

Supply-side constraints remain all too evident. However, this reality takes time to play out. In the short term, I have no idea where the price of oil will go. But on a longer-term basis, I expect the price to remain elevated and extremely volatile, too.

Leading exploration and production producers in the US have warned that they will probably never see production levels return to pre-pandemic levels. With the shale industry unable to bolster demand, their ability to control prices will diminish. In such a scenario, OPEC plus will once again reassert its dominance.

When one puts on top of that the reopening of China, together with a reversal in the drawdown in the strategic petroleum reserves, another damaging price surge could re-ignite the inflation dragon. In such a scenario, there is only one place for me to park my capital, and that is in hard assets. 

Andrew Mackie owns shares in Shell.

Shell

What it does: Shell is a multinational oil and gas company with over 80,000 employees in more than 70 countries.

By Matthew Dumigan. Shell’s (LSE:SHEL) share price performance was shaky in March, largely caused by a combination of the Credit Suisse crisis and the continued downward trend in oil prices.

Despite these risks and concerns, I rate Shell shares as a top buy for the month of April and beyond.

One thing I particularly admire about the company is its rock-solid financial position. In my view, this should enable Shell to fund significant organic investment in the long run, which would be a key driver of sustained growth.

Alongside this, provided the company can continue to expand its renewables and energy solutions segment, I’m confident Shell remains well positioned to develop this into a lucrative core business line. That’s great news for investors willing to hold for the long term.

Overall, with a forward P/E ratio of around 6.75, I find the company’s current valuation attractive in spite of strong share price growth in recent years.

Matthew Dumigan does not own shares in Shell.

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.

The Motley Fool UK has recommended Alpha Group International, Associated British Foods Plc, Diageo Plc, Experian Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Ocado Group Plc, and Tesco Plc. 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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