Construction services colossus Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) has proved to be a winner for growth hunters in recent years, the London company printing stellar double-digit earnings expansion over the past five years alone.
The ride has been a little bumpier over at Diageo (LSE: DGE) in recent times, however, with macroeconomic turbulence and anti-extravagance measures in China, for example, damaging the manufacturer’s solid bottom-line record.
However, I believe the drinks giant is now set fair to deliver resplendent investor returns.
Rentals play roars
But looking again at Ashtead, the London firm’s latest financials on Tuesday certainly underlined its stunning growth potential.
Sure, Ashtead may be dealing 4% lower since the release, but this represents a light bout of profit-taking in my opinion, following Ashtead’s regular moves from record high after record high. The stock has risen almost 90% in value during the past 12 months alone.
The equipment provider announced that underlying rental revenues strode 13% higher during the nine months to January, to £2.17bn, a result that shoved underlying pre-tax profit 9% higher to £604.6m.
Ashtead continued to witness exceptional demand growth both at home and in the US, with revenues rising 14% at its British A-Plant division and 9% at its North American Sunbelt arm. In addition, Ashtead was also a beneficiary of sterling’s steady slide during the nine-month period.
And the City expects earnings at both Ashtead and Diageo to keep chugging northwards during the medium term at least.
At Ashtead, further meaty rises — by 23% and 15% in the years to April 2017 and 2018 respectively — are currently anticipated. Not only are subsequent P/E ratios of 16.1 times and 14 times great value given Ashtead’s earnings pedigree, but PEG readouts below 1 for both this year and next confirm the business as a genuine value stock.
And an improving construction market in the States, allied with Ashtead’s healthy appetite for acquisitions, leaves the company in great shape to keep on churning out exceptional profits growth in my opinion. Ashtead spent £196m on bolt-on buys during May-January alone.
As for Diageo, the number crunchers expect the firm to build on the last fiscal year’s modest earnings recovery with advances of 18% and 9% in the periods to June 2017 and 2018 respectively. As a result, the beverages specialist may not carry the same sort of value appeal as Ashtead, with P/E ratios of 21.4 times and 19.6 times for this year and next.
But with a growing North American economy supporting these near-term forecasts, and Diageo chucking vast sums at premier labels like Smirnoff and Captain Morgan — as well as expanding its presence in emerging regions — I reckon Diageo will prove a great growth pick in the years to come.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.