Improved investor sentiment towards the domestic-heavy FTSE 250 sent the index to a new record high this morning. But as valuations become stretched are there any bargains mid-caps left?
You can’t go wrong with a classic
Indeed there are. One of the most appealing is soft drinks maker Britvic (LSE: BVIC), which offers a high and growing dividend, good growth potential and a reasonable valuation of 12.2 times trailing earnings.
Solid growth prospects may seem unlikely given the consumer trend towards all-natural, low sugar, low calorie drinks that stands at odds with Britvic’s history of bottling Pepsi sodas and producing fruit concentrates such as Robinsons. However, management saw this coming sooner than competitors and re-developed its brand name drinks to contain lower sugar and fewer calories.
The continued popularity of its brands is backed up by the 2.2% year-on-year rise in UK sales as it shipped higher volumes of carbonated products and the slowdown in sales of still products improved slightly.
And the company isn’t just relying on the core UK market to provide growth. International sales grew 19.8% year-on-year in constant currency terms and 34.6% at actual exchange rates as key markets such as France and Ireland performed well. Even more exciting was the 7.8% rise in constant currency sales in Brazil, which represents a huge potential market in the coming years.
Overall group sales rose 4.3% year-on-year in Q1, led by a very encouraging 3.9% increase in volumes shipped. Rising sales are being matched by rising profits, which bodes well for the company’s dividend that currently yields 3.6% annually. Earnings covered the 24.5p dividend 1.78 times last year so there’s still plenty of room to increase shareholder payouts.
With respectable growth in core markets such as the UK buttressed by huge growth potential in places such as Brazil, a large and well covered dividend and a sane valuation I rate Britvic as a stellar long-term buy at today’s price.
Transatlantic growth not to be missed
Another FTSE 250 bargain in the FMCG sector is food-to-go producer Greencore (LSE: GNC). The company is the largest maker of sandwiches, sushi, salads and other ready-made foods sold at grocery stores across the UK. And with its shares trading at just 14.8 times forward earnings while offering a respectable 2.25% dividend yield and great growth prospects I believe now is a great time to take a closer look.
The company may already be the largest player in the UK market but that doesn’t mean growth is slowing down. In Q1 like-for-like sales rose 9.1% as it scored new contract wins in the UK and its US convenience store business performed well with like-for-like sales rising 8%.
And growth in the US is just beginning to scratch the surface of the company’s long-term potential. In November the group announced the $747m purchase of US food-to-go producer Peacock Foods. This will be a transformative acquisition that will make the US business roughly equal in size to the UK one, will immediately enhance earnings and, most importantly, give Greencore access to the massive US grocery store market it had not previously been active in.
Considering Greencore’s management team has an excellent history with acquisitions and that it is growing quickly in both the UK and US, I believe investors will do very well in the long run by owning a part of this business.
Ian Pierce has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Britvic, Greencore, and PepsiCo. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.