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3 Shares Primed For Stratospheric Growth in 2015: Standard Life Plc, CRH PLC And Ashtead Group plc

Today I am highlighting three blue-chip winners set to deliver stunning earnings growth in 2015.

Standard Life

Changes to the sale of annuities resulting from this year’s budget has significantly dented business at life insurance giant Standard Life (LSE: SL). Although this issue remains a worry — annuity sales had crumbled by 55% in the year to late October — Standard Life’s hefty exposure to the savings, investment and pension markets promises to deliver strong long-term profits.

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On top of this, the company’s purchase of Ignis Asset Management backin March has significantly bolstered Standard Life’s position in the fund management arena, a sector in which the business is experiencing strong earnings growth.

Although the business has failed to report two consecutive years of earnings expansion since the 2008/2009 economic crisis hollowed out earnings, the City’s army of brokers expect the business to punch a sustained recovery from this year onwards. Indeed, an 8% earnings expansion this year, to 21.2p per share, is predicted to jump an additional 21% in 2015 to 25.6p.

Accordingly the insurer’s P/E multiple of 19.9 times for 2014 falls to 16.5 times for next year, within touching distance of the benchmark of 15 times which represents attractive value for money.


Construction specialists CRH (LSE: CRH) are predicted to punch stunning growth in the near term as building activity in North America and Europe improves. On top of this, CRH — which supplies and distributes building materials — is also embarking on an explosive acquisition path to supercharge earnings expansion.

As in the case of Standard Life, City analysts expect 2014 to represent a seachange in CRH’s growth story, the business having experienced severe earnings choppiness during the past five years. Indeed, the number crunchers believe the company will punch a 33% bottom line improvement this year, to 79 euro cents per share. And a further 37% earnings rise is anticipated for next year, to 108.2 cents.

Although these figures are undoubtedly impressive, at first glance it may appear that CRH’s growth prospects are currently factored into the share price, even though the firm’s P/E multiple collapses to 18 times next year from 24.6 times in 2014.

However, I believe that price to earnings to growth (PEG) readouts of 0.8 and 0.5 for 2014 and 2015 respectively underline the company’s splendid value — any figure below 1 is widely regarded as terrific bang for your buck.

Ashtead Group

Equipment rental specialists Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) has forged a reputation as one of the most electrifying growth plays on the FTSE 100, the business having seen earnings expand at a compound annual growth rate of 64.1% during the past three years alone.

Not only is the company benefiting from a strong recovery in its end markets, but Ashtead’s ability to grab market share is also driving growth at its US Sunbelt division and its A-Plant arm in the UK. And with the business recently hiking its capital expenditure guidance by a quarter for this year, Ashtead is laying the foundations for strong growth.

Ashtead is expected to keep earnings rolling higher in the near future, with a 24% rise in the year ending April 2014 — to 57.6p per share — predicted to increase an additional 20% in fiscal 2015 to 69.2p per share.

Consequently, an uninspiring P/E multiple of 18.2 times for the current year falls to a much more appetising 15.2 times in fiscal 2015. And in my opinion Ashtead’s PEG readings of 0.8 for both this year and next illustrate the terrific value on offer

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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