Many shares on the London stock market are doing well as, post-referendum, there’s something of a two-tier effect on the London stock market. UK-facing cyclical shares are weaker due to the fear of an imminent economic slowdown in Britain, but investors are driving up share prices in firms operating in defensive sectors, many of which derive revenues abroad.
Weak sterling makes overseas earnings worth more when translated back to pounds and, on top of that, defensive sectors tend to be prized above others in times of uncertainty because of their consistent cash-generating qualities.
Which way to jump?
We could either hunt for bargains among the fallen or put faith in shares performing well and thus demonstrating the resilience of the underlying businesses.
Both options have merit. Careful share-picking looks set to deliver pleasing results for investors willing to hold on for a period measured in years rather than weeks or months.
Today, I’m looking at three strong performers likely to resist any negative impact of Britain unwinding itself from the EU: ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM), Hikma Pharmaceuticals (LSE: HIK) and PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC). If the stock market surprises many by moving further up this year, which some City analysts think it might, I reckon these three should be among the risers.
Growth on track
FTSE 100 microchip designer ARM Holdings is a clear referendum winner so far. The firm’s shares were as low as 860p in February but today they trade around 1,115p, driven perhaps by the weaker pound because ARM derives much of its revenue abroad.
On top of that, ARM’s business remains strong. The firm occupies a unique position in the chip market for most of today’s mainstream devices such as smartphones and computers. The directors see on-going growth potential in areas such as servers and applications for the so-called Internet of Things. In April, Q1 results revealed revenue up 14% year-on-year and earnings per share up 15%, so no sign of any Brexit-induced stress there.
I reckon ARM’s proactive approach to research and development will keep the company in the vanguard of firms capturing advantage from technological trends as they develop in years to come, which seems set to keep growth on track.
Hikma pharmaceuticals focuses on a wide range of generic, branded generic and licensed pharmaceutical products. The sector tends to be defensive in as much as demand can be stable, which often generates reliable cash inflow.
Hikma makes the most of its opportunity expanding briskly both organically and through acquisition. Since 2008, the shares are up 750% but there’s still plenty of growth potential. City analysts following the firm see earnings ballooning by 46% during 2017. It trades all over the world and reports in US dollars, which is a good place to be with the pound so weak.
It would be remiss of me not to include a consumer goods company in this line-up. Such firms are well known for their cash-generating reliability as customers buy the product, repeat-buy. PZ Cussons fits the bill with its popular brands such as Imperial Leather, Carex, Cussons and Morning Fresh.
Defensive firms like PZ Cussons can be resistant to recessions because customers keep buying their essentials no matter how tough times are. Much of the firm’s revenue comes from abroad and I think the company will hold up well if the economic storm clouds gather.
Kevin Godbold owns shares in ARM Holdings. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of PZ Cussons. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ARM Holdings and Hikma Pharmaceuticals. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.