3 growth giants for your consideration! Unilever plc, Wolseley plc & Acal plc

Image: Unilever. Fair use.

Today I am running the rule over three traditional growth stars.

Pipe power

Shares in building materials provider Wolseley (LSE: WOS) have sunk in Wednesday trading following a worrisome trading outlook — the firm was last 6% lower on the day.

Wolseley saw revenues canter 10.8% higher during February-April, it advised, to £3.66bn, a result that propelled trading profit 17.9% higher to £230m.

However, Wolseley advised that “recent revenue growth trends have been weaker,” the business noting “challenging” conditions in the British heating segment and the Nordic construction sector. Consequently the business plans to step up restructuring at home and on the continent, it advised.

Wolseley has a terrific record delivering annual earnings growth, and the City had pencilled in further expansion of 7% and 13% in the periods to July 2016 and 2017 correspondingly.

While these numbers are likely to be downgraded following today’s update, I reckon Wolseley’s excellent presence across Europe and the US still makes it a strong contender to deliver long-term earnings growth.

Tech titan

Electronics specialist Acal (LSE: ACL) has suffered no such problems in midweek trading, the share last flat on the day despite the heavy risk aversion sweeping across global bourses.

Acal saw revenues leap 6% during the 12 months to March 2016, it advised, to £287.7m, a result that propelled underlying pre-tax profit 23% higher during the period, to £14.5m.

And while the business noted that “challenging trading conditions are likely to continue in the first half of the year,” it added that “we expect an improvement in the second half in line with our expectations for the full year.” And Acal added that it has the financial firepower to undertake further acquisitions looking ahead.

Like Wolseley, Acal has a terrific growth record, and the City expects the business to generate further growth of 7% this year and 12% in 2018. I reckon consequent P/E ratings of 13.6 times and 12.1 times for these periods make Acal a great-value growth selection.

Global goliath

Household goods heavyweight Unilever (LSE: ULVR) also has a sterling record of generating strong earnings growth year after year.

And this comes as little surprise given the ubiquity of its products — from Dove soap and VO5 shampoo to Flora margarine, Unilever’s products can be found in cupboards and fridges across established and emerging regions alike.

Not only this, the strength of these brands allow Unilever to keep hiking prices regardless of broader pressures on consumers’ wallets, a critical quality in the current macroeconomic climate. And the London firm is throwing massive amounts into product innovation and marketing to maintain the popularity of its brands with label-conscious customers.

These qualities are expected to push earnings at Unilever 9% and 8% higher in 2016 and 2017 respectively. While consequent P/E ratings of 21.4 times and 19.9 times may look heady on paper, I reckon Unilever’s terrific defensive qualities fully merit these premiums.

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