With just three days to the ISA deadline and no clarity on the terms of the UK’s divorce from Europe, I’d like to highlight two stocks that have outstanding growth prospects, and are immune to the Brexit outcome.
The first is FTSE 100 private healthcare group NMC Health (LSE: NMC). It’s the leading operator in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, whose member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The second is MP Evans (LSE: MPE), a well-established producer of palm oil in Indonesia.
Price pain but profitable
In its annual results, released today, MP Evans reported a 32% increase in crops to 573,000 tonnes, and record production of crude palm oil — up 25% to 192,500 tonnes. Meanwhile, costs were down by 14% to $320 per tonne of palm product.
However, one thing outside the company’s control is the price of palm oil. Record production and reduced costs could not outweigh a year of significantly lower palm-oil prices in 2018. The company remained profitable, but profit from continuing operations fell to $7.2m from $27m in 2017.
The share price was down as much as 10% to 620p in early trading, but has recovered to 652p (down 5%), as I’m writing. This represents a whopping 86 times today’s reported earnings per share (EPS) of 9.9 cents (7.6p at current exchange rates). However, the outlook for 2019 and beyond is much brighter. And this gave the board confidence to maintain the 2018 dividend at 17.75p (running yield 2.7%).
Rising earnings ahead
The palm oil price has recovered from a low point of $440 per tonne in the middle of November to $520 per tonne at the end of March, and the futures market is anticipating significant further price increases to come.
Ahead of today’s results, forecast EPS for 2019 stood at 42 cents (32p), rising to 54 cents (41p) for 2020. So on a forward basis, we’re looking at 20.4 times EPS, falling to 15.9 times. This is a well-managed business, with many years of increasing production ahead, and I rate the stock a ‘buy’ at the current price.
Multi-year growth story
There was no annus horribilis for NMC Health in 2018. The company delivered another year of record revenues and profits. EPS growth to 133 cents (102p) was in line with its four-year annual average of around 30%. Strong growth is set to continue, with EPS of 177 cents (135p) forecast for 2019, followed by 219 cents (167p) for 2020.
A current share price of 2,420p represents 17.9 times forecast 2019 EPS and 14.5 times 2020’s. Meanwhile, a running yield of 0.75% on a dividend of 18.1p is set rise strongly in the coming years, with the payout tracking the rapid growth in EPS.
NMC is another well-run business, and management has a record of under-promising and over-delivering on guidance. The company’s unmatched geographic reach within its target markets, and significant lead over others in the diversity and complexity of its medical services, are strong competitive advantages. I see another multi-year growth story here, and another stock I’d be happy to buy today.
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G A Chester has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended NMC Health. 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.