Do you prefer reliable predictable companies that raise their rewards slowly but steadily, or the possibly-bigger short-term profits from more volatile shares? Whatever your preference, we’re getting updates from both types at the moment.
A great example of the ultra-reliable is SABMiller (LSE: SAB), which has been steadily lifting profits and dividends for years — and its shares have been growing in response. Thursday’s Q1 trading update suggests more of the same this year, with the firm’s overall net producer revenue up 2% on the year — its formidable global spread keeps it relatively immune to local economic upsets.
But the days of SABMiller as an investment are coming to an end, as the US Justice Department has given the nod to Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s acquisition of the long-term investor’s favourite. At a value of $107bn, it’s pretty much a done deal (and that figure looks even better for UK investors now that the pound has fallen).
Over the past five years, SABMiller investors have seen their shares nearly double in value while providing inflation-beating dividends, and over the past decade the price has soared by 354%. They don’t come much better than that — and as a long-term investor, I’m sad to have to wave a fond goodbye to SABMiller.
Outsourcing for success
Babcock International (LSE: BAB) might not be an investment name to generate excitement, and its shares have lost 25% in a little over two years, to 961p. But if you ignore it you could be missing a nice opportunity.
The firm’s AGM trading update told us that the year has started well and it continues “to experience strong demand […] in the UK and overseas“. The company’s order book and bid pipeline look impressive too, with a full 85% of 2016/17 revenue now accounted for and 56% of the following year’s already in place too.
Although the effects of Brexit are hard to determine now, Babcock says the long-term fundamentals of its business are unchanged and this year’s growth expectations are undiminished. The price fall has left the shares on a P/E for this year of a modest 12, dropping to 11 on March 2018 forecasts. Taken along with expected dividend yields of around 3%, that’s looking like an oversold share to me, and I predict a healthy long-term future.
Finance sector bargain?
The finance sector has been hard hit by the Brexit vote, but that’s surely throwing up some bargains, isn’t it? Leaving the big banks aside, I’ve been looking at financial and investment services group Close Brothers (LSE: CBG) on the occasion of its latest trading update.
Ahead of its year ending 31 July, the firm told us it saw its loan book grow by 7.2% in the five months to 30 June and by 11.6% year-to-date, taking it to £6.4bn. Net interest margins are stable, with the company’s bad debt ratio “at or close to historical lows“. The Asset Management division has enjoyed net inflows and market gains, taking managed assets to £7.8bn from £7.3bn in January.
With the board feeling “confident in a solid outcome for the current financial year” do I see the shares as undervalued on a P/E of only 10 and with a 5% dividend yield forecast? Does a donkey like strawberries? That’s a yes, by the way.
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. 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.