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Forget the high valuations! Why you need to check out ARM Holdings plc, Bunzl plc and Merlin Entertainments plc

Today I’m looking at three FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) greats changing hands on heady paper valuations.

Growth giant

I believe the current political and economic jitters battering financial markets make Bunzl (LSE: BNZL) a great stock pick at the present time.

The support services is one of the best ‘defensive’ selections out there thanks to its broad range of operations. From mops and stationery through to safety helmets and first aid kits, Bunzl provides an array of ‘essential’ goods for a wide variety of industries.

This has enabled the bottom line at Bunzl to continue growing regardless of wider economic pressures, and the City expects this trend to keep on rolling — indeed, earnings are expected to rise 7% and 3% in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Subsequent P/E ratings of 20.2 times and 19.7 times are unlikely to wow bargain hunters, however. And dividend yields of 2.1% and 2.2% for these years trail the FTSE 100 average of 3.5% by some distance.

Still, I reckon Bunzl’s leading position across a cluster of indispensable product segments — a position emboldened by its rising global footprint — should continue to generate terrific growth well into the future. This makes the firm a great pick regardless of its uninspiring near-term valuations, in my opinion.

Take a ride

I reckon that rampant global expansion over at Merlin Entertainments (LSE: MERL) also makes the rollercoaster play a great pick regardless of current prices.

For both 2016 and 2017, Merlin is expected to see earnings rise 15%, meaning the company changes hands on P/E ratings of 20.1 times and 17.4 times for these years. These figures sail above the big-cap average of 15 times.

And dividend yields ring in at just 1.6% and 1.8% for these periods.

However, I believe the Alton Towers operator should provide terrific returns for patient investors. The growing popularity of leisure parks is seeing Merlin Entertainments expand its operations in the UK and abroad, and the upcoming opening of Legoland in Shanghai underlines the terrific potential thrown up by emerging markets.

Microchip marvel

At first glance ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM) may also appear too rich for many investors’ blood, particularly given the slowdown in its key smartphone and tablet computer markets.

Sure, the microchip builder may be expected to enjoy a 44% earnings advance in 2016. But this still leaves it dealing on a huge P/E ratio of 27.8 times. And the reading remains elevated for next year, a predicted 15% earnings rise resulting in a multiple of 24.5 times.

Meanwhile, dividend yields of 1.1% and 1.3% may not excite many investors.

But I for one reckon ARM Holdings’ diversification into other fast-growing tech markets makes the business a tantalising long-term favourite. Indeed, the Cambridge firm’s success in other areas resulted in 39 new processor licence agreements during January-March alone.

I believe ARM Holdings’ top-tier supplier status with OEMs the world over makes it a stock to buy and hold long into the future.

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