Should You Buy AstraZeneca plc, Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc Or Premier Foods Plc For Your 2015 ISA?

Today I am looking at three very different businesses that I consider strong investment candidates.

Drugs demand poised to charge

Like the rest of the world’s big-cap pharma plays, AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) (NYSE: AZN.US) has seen revenues sink in recent years as the effect of patent expirations across key labels has bitten. This phenomenon caused earnings at the Cambridge-based firm to rattle lower for the fourth consecutive year in 2014.

And the company faces further headaches in the near future, with generic competition set to attack the dominance of its Nexium stomach treatment and Crestor cholesterol-battling drug in the near future. As a consequence, the business is expected to rack up extras earnings dips of 5% and 3% in 2015 and 2016 correspondingly.

However, there are growing signs that AstraZeneca may be turning the corner and setting itself up for terrific long-term growth. The company has accelerated its product pipeline and set a record of six new product approvals in 2014, while plans to establish a network of new laboratories across Europe and the US — combined with a steady stream of acquisitions and synergies with industry leaders — should help it to develop the next generation of sales drivers.

Emerging markets bolsters growth outlooks

And like household goods giant Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB), AstraZeneca is also a great play on emerging markets, where rising economic growth is driving healthcare demand through the roof. Indeed, the medicines giant saw sales to developing markets advance 12% last year, underpinned by strong performance in China where revenues leapt 22%.

The effect of rising personal income levels is also driving demand for consumer goods, benefiting Reckitt Benckiser whose market-leading brands like Durex contraceptives and Dettol cleaning product range carry exceptional sway in new territories. Indeed, like-for-like sales in the RUMEA (Russia, Middle East and Africa) region climbed 11% in 2014, while LAPAC (Latin America and Asia Pacific) demand advanced 5%.

The terrific pricing power of these labels has enabled the firm to keep revenues rising despite the effect of wider cyclical headwinds battering these markets. With sales moving resolutely higher in established and new territories alike, and massive cost-cutting initiatives helping to boost margins, I believe Reckitt Benckiser is in great shape to keep earnings chugging along nicely.

The right recipe for success

Although Premier Foods (LSE: PFD) lacks the same global presence as AstraZeneca or Reckitt Benckiser, I reckon the company’s strong presence in Britain makes it a strong growth candidate — more than nine-tenths of the UK’s shoppers are said to have bought one of the firm’s products during the past 12 months.

The manufacturer of Bisto gravy, Sharwoods Asian-themed foods and Ambrosia desserts has seen the top line take a steady pasting in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 recession, thanks to reduced consumer spending power and then the heavy discounting implemented across the grocery sector.

But with Premier Foods having slashed the number of products it makes from around 1,700 to around 1,000 now — bringing it in line with the strategies of the country’s major supermarkets — and having stepped up marketing and product innovation across key brands, the business is now in great shape to enjoy stellar earnings growth in my opinion. Indeed, Premier Foods recorded its highest quarterly market share for three years during September-December, helped by the relaunch of its Mr Kipling cakes range.

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Royston Wild has no position in any 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.