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3 Brexit-proof stocks? ARM Holdings plc, Imperial Brands plc and Reckitt Benckiser Group plc

The effects of Brexit are likely to take a number of years to be fully realised. That’s because the process of the UK leaving the EU will take at least two years, with a period of uncertainty then to followm as the UK exists outside of the EU for the first time in over 40 years.

Crucially, no company in the world may be completely immune from the effects of Brexit. If it goes on to cause weakness and a subsequent break-up of the EU, then the world economy may be plunged into a major depression. However, some companies will inevitably be more Brexit-proof than others in terms of being less affected by an uncertain outlook for the UK economy.

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Tremendous stability

For example, Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB) is very much focused on the emerging world, with sales to developing economies likely to be its key growth driver over the medium to long term. Therefore, an uncertain outlook for the UK is not a major headache for the company and its investors – especially with it being so geographically well-diversified and having a wide range of products.

This affords Reckitt Benckiser tremendous stability and with it forecast to record a rise in earnings of 7% this year and 9% next year, it offers an upbeat outlook which is likely to be delivered. This latter point on reliability could count for a lot among nervous investors and cause Reckitt Benckiser’s share price to keep moving upwards.

Nimble and adaptable

Another stock which is relatively Brexit-proof is ARM (LSE: ARM). It is a truly global business which is focused on investing for the long term in areas such as the ‘Internet of Things’, as well as its excellent cash generator of smartphone processors. Clearly, a global recession would hurt ARM’s performance, but with it having a relatively wide margin of safety it seems to offer a bright long term outlook when it comes to capital gains.

In fact, ARM’s share price is up by 2% since Thursday’s vote and this provides an indication of investor confidence in the company’s future. Trading on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 1.7, it seems to offer good value for money and due to its asset-light business model, which focuses on intellectual property rather than on manufacturing, it should remain nimble and adaptable as the global economy evolves post-Brexit.

Robust profitability

Meanwhile, shares in Imperial Brands (LSE: IMB) have also performed well after the EU referendum. They have risen by 1.5% and this takes their rise over the last year to 17%, versus a fall of 11% for the FTSE 100. This trend is likely to continue in future as Imperial Brands is a well-diversified business with a major growth opportunity in e-cigarettes alongside the stable and robust profitability offered by its traditional cigarette business.

This combination is likely to prove highly popular among investors, and Imperial Brands’ rating could expand from its current level of 15.7. In fact, a number of global consumer goods companies outside of the tobacco sector trade on P/Es of over 20 and so Imperial Brands’ valuation could be viewed as exceptionally low on this basis.

With its earnings set to rise by 12% this year and by a further 6% next year, Imperial Brands remains a high-growth, defensive stock which continues to offer stunning long term capital gain potential.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of ARM Holdings and Imperial Brands. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ARM Holdings and Reckitt Benckiser. 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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