Everybody loves a winner. If you have these two FTSE 100 stocks in your portfolio, congratulations, you couldn’t have chosen better. The question now is whether they will continue to deliver over the next 18 years.
BATS out of hell
Stock of the millennium is British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) according to new research from investment platform AJ Bell. Since 31 December 1999 it has grown a whopping 1,008%, assuming all dividends reinvested for growth. This may come as a surprise to some, because in many respects tobacco is a dying industry. At the start of the millennium, 26.8% of UK adults and 23.2% in the US were smokers. By 2016, those figures had fallen to 15.5% and 15.1% respectively.
It is a different story in China where 30% of adults smoke, including 53% of men. Overall volumes are still falling despite emerging market demand, but British American Tobacco has pricing power and is migrating smokers to higher-margin products. It also has a dominant market position after last year’s acquisition of Reynolds American Inc.
Smoke and fire
Some investors do not touch tobacco but if you do, the case for British American Tobacco remains strong with forecast margins of 38.9% and a 301% return on capital employed. It throws off cash, which it returns to shareholders through share buybacks and its juicy dividend. This has grown every year since 1999, and currently offers a forecast yield of 5% for 2018, with cover of 1.5. Smoking is addictive, giving company and investors a safety net if the global economy slips up. It is also cashing in on the growing popularity of e-cigarettes.
British American Tobacco’s earnings per share (EPS) are forecast to rise 6% this year and 9% in 2019, and it looks a bargain trading at 13.7 times earnings. Market volatility has knocked its share price, which is down almost 22% over the past year, but this looks like a buying opportunity to me.
We don’t need another hero – oh yes we do! Household goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group (LSE: RB) is the FTSE 100’s second greatest millennium star, returning a total of 922% so far. Air Wick, Dettol, Durex, Finish, Harpic, Nurofen, Vanish are just some of the reasons why.
Performance has disappointed lately, with growth trailing rival Unilever. Problems include £300m consumer redress in Korea, a US Department of Justice investigation, and last year’s cyber attack. Management also has its work cut out turning around recent acquisition, formula milk specialist Mead Johnson, although £300m of cost synergies by 2020 gives it a juicy target to aim at.
The long-term story is rock solid, despite recent shaky news flow. The share price is down 17% in the last year as a result, and again, I see a buying opportunity. Reckitt Benckiser trades at a forecast 18.2 times earnings, bargain territory for this stock, which routinely knocks around the 25 mark.
The future looks bright for this bargain defensive stock with EPS forecast to grow 5% this year and 7% in 2019, lifting the yield to 3%. I expect the success story to continue. The recent dip allows you to jump on board at a decent price.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. 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.