As I type, Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB) is tipping towards fresh multi-year lows on Monday, a 2% decline taking the household goods giant to levels not seen since the summer of 2015.
In total. the maker of Nurofen painkillers and Veet hair remover has seen its share price drop 25% over the past year and, as difficult market conditions could persist for some time longer, I would not rule out further share price weakness.
Reckitt Benckiser’s latest trading statement last week hasn’t exactly filled me with confidence as troubles persist in its key markets, and the forecast-missing first quarter hasn’t exactly improved investor sentiment either.
In its Europe and Australia/New Zealand trading ops, the FTSE 100 business saw like-for-like aggregated revenues drop 1% from a year earlier during January-March, the company advising of “mixed” performances across the region and in particular weak demand for its Scholl footcare products.
While like-for-like growth in North America stood at a robust 6%, Reckitt Benckiser warned that performance further out will not be as impressive, in part because of the impact of rising competition for its Mucinex cold and flu medicine lines.
Powerbrands delivering the goods
In cheerier news, the brilliant sales opportunities of its emerging markets was laid bare by news that like-for-like sales across these growth markets rose 4% thanks to its Dettol, Finish and Durex so-called Powerbrands rising by double-digit percentages, as did total sales in the Greater China territory.
It is Reckitt Benckiser’s huge exposure to these growth markets, plus the brilliant pricing power of its brands, that convinces me it is a stock investors can buy now and stash away in the knowledge of strong and sustained earnings growth. And ongoing innovation across its labels should keep the top line moving skywards.
These qualities are expected to keep earnings on an upward tilt in the interim, even as troubles in its European markets persist. Profits rises of 4% and 8% are forecast for 2018 and 2019 respectively, figures that also lead to predictions of further dividend growth and chunky yields of 3.1% for this year and 3.3% for next year.
A forward P/E ratio of 16.6 times sits above the accepted value watermark of 15 times or below. But I believe the strong long-term profits outlook still makes it an excellent pick at these prices.
Another FTSE 100 beauty
I also reckon weapons builder BAE Systems (LSE: BA) is a sound selection for those seeking robust returns in the years ahead.
Lumpy contract timings are a common problem in the defence sector, and this is expected to create a 2% earnings dip at the Footsie company in 2018. However, this is expected to prove a temporary setback and a 7% rebound is forecast for next year.
BAE Systems currently deals on a forward P/E multiple of 14.1 times and I consider this a bargain given the broadly-stable outlook for Western defence expenditure, not to mention the firm’s growing influence in emerging markets. And the broad range of its solutions (from cyberspace to submarines) provides earnings with that little extra visibility.
With dividend yields also standing at a robust 3.7% and 3.9% for 2018 and 2019 respectively, I reckon the arms giant is a great buy. As the world becomes less stable in the face of rising terrorist threats and increasing geopolitical instability, demand for BAE Systems’ products is unlikley to go away any time soon.
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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. 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.