Shares in National Grid (LSE: NG) have outperformed the FTSE 100 by over 11% since the turn of the year and further outperformance is on the cards. A key reason for that is National Grid’s consistency and its robust business model, which is less positively correlated to the performance of the wider economy than is the case for most of its index peers.
With uncertainty being high among investors and the outlook for the FTSE 100 being uncertain for the remainder of 2016 due to the EU referendum and US election, National Grid is likely to hold great appeal for nervous investors moving forward. And with its shares having a low beta of just 0.6, it’s likely to offer less volatility in future months.
Although National Grid’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 15.7 may appear to be rather high compared to the wider index, for a utility with relatively low risk it seems to be highly appealing. In fact, an upward rerating may be on the cards – especially since National Grid yields 4.5% and is likely to raise dividends at a higher rate than inflation over the medium-to-long term.
While National Grid has beaten the FTSE 100 year-to-date, shares in real estate investment trust (REIT) Derwent London (LSE: DLN) have underperformed the wider index by 8%. A key reason for that is uncertainty surrounding the UK property market, with Derwent’s focus on London being particularly negative in this regard. That’s because after years of rises, there’s a real fear among investors that London property prices have overheated and are now due a pullback.
Furthermore, with the UK economy also having an uncertain future due in part to the potential for a Brexit, Derwent’s share price could continue to disappoint in the near term. Looking further ahead, Derwent’s P/E ratio of 43 indicates that its shares are rather overpriced – even though Derwent’s bottom line is due to rise by 8% this year and by a further 16% next year. Therefore, while it may have a bright long-term future, Derwent could struggle to beat the FTSE 100 this year.
The London issue
Meanwhile, shares in commercial and residential property investment company Daejan (LSE: DJAN) have fallen by 11% since the turn of the year. That’s due to the same reason as Derwent, with Daejan being focused on the Greater London area and having significant residential assets. While this has been a positive in recent years due to London house price growth, in future it could be a problem.
However, with Daejan trading on a price-to-book (P/B) ratio of only 0.7, it seems to offer excellent long-term value for money. Certainly, there’s scope for its net asset value to fall if house prices fall, but there seems to be a wide margin of safety on offer, which makes it a sound long-term buy. But in terms of outperforming the FTSE 100 in 2016, this seems more uncertain as investor sentiment may remain weak in the coming months.
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Peter Stephens owns shares of National Grid. 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.