A lot of investors remain reluctant to invest in UK-focused stocks today. And they can’t be blamed. Hopes that December’s general election would dispel Brexit-related turbulence didn’t take long to disappear into thin air. It’s clear that the intense political and economic uncertainty that’s dogged domestic growth in recent years is set to persist through 2020 and possibly longer.
National Grid (LSE: NG) however is a brilliant British stock that should remain immune to any adverse Brexit consequences. The country’s electricity network will remain up and running whatever disaster befalls the domestic economy. And this is a field in which the FTSE 100 firm experiences no competitive pressures.
The power play isn’t completely without risk, of course. Regulators keep utilities specialists on a tight leash. And this was illustrated last month when Ofgem announced it was investigating National Grid and Scottish Power over the laying of the Western Link subsea cable.
The need to provide maximum value to customers is becoming increasingly problematic, as the likes of Centrica have found with the recent imposition of price caps. And while not on the retail end of things, it’s something that National Grid has to be mindful of. Breaking up the company’s monopoly on maintaining the grid is something that many have been calling on for years now.
The increasingly large dividends that the Footsie firm has been shelling out to its shareholders hasn’t won it too many plaudits from politicians or consumer groups, either. This is a theme which is likely to continue, too, certainly if City forecasts are to be believed.
Brokers expect a 48.7p per share dividend to be paid for the full fiscal year to March 2020. This compares with the 46.52p reward paid last time out and carries a monster 4.7%. Compare that with the FTSE 100 broader average which sits at 4%.
And estimators expect another dividend hike in financial 202 1 to 50.1p per share dividend. This nudges the yield to 4.9%.
I still think that National Grid is a top buy, though. Regulatory concerns will always remain a worry but I reckon a forward price-to-earnings growth (PEG) of 0.5 more than bakes in these risks. Combined with those monster yields I think it’s a top buy today.
A hot dividend grower
Smurfit Kappa (LSE: SKG) doesn’t offer the sort of yields that National Grid does. In fact, its reading of 3.2% for 2020 falls some way short of its blue-chip compatriot’s. But I’d buy the packaging manufacturer on its bright trading outlook, and the likelihood that dividends will keep raising at a breakneck pace.
Last year Smurfit Kappa hiked the final payout in 2019 by double-digit percentages on the back of another highly successful year. Strong growth across Europe and the Americas helped EBITDA grow 7% year on year, with demand in its home continent being particularly robust and growing ahead of the broader market.
I expect sales of the Footsie firm’s product to keep tearing higher, too. Its focus on sustainable packaging taps into an increasingly popular customer requirement, while its dedication to acquisitions puts it near the front of the pack in terms of product innovation, too.
And right now it trades on a rock-bottom forward PEG ratio of 0.5, too. It is, like National Grid, a top dividend buy today.
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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.