If you’re seeking handsome profits growth you could do a lot worse than buy shares in Applegreen (LSE: APGN), I feel. The petrol station chain is expected to report a 27% annual earnings rise for 2019 when full-year results come out on Friday, March 27. And City analysts predict that it’ll print bottom-line increases of 18% and 11% in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
This AIM-quoted stock has long been a major player in Ireland. But in recent years its growth strategy has been centred around international expansion. It now has almost 500 sites across its home territory, plus the UK and US.
The acquisition of motorway services chain Welcome Break (which it acquired in autumn 2018) on the other side of the Irish Sea is paying off handsomely. And according to its most recent financials in September, the deal should provide even greater savings than it originally envisaged. Meanwhile Applegreen continues to spread its wings in the States by buying up service stations and building stakes in existing operators (it sealed a 40% stake in CT Service Plazas of Connecticut late last year).
At current prices, Applegreen carries a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 31.9 times. It does’t come cheap, but I reckon the company’s exciting growth plan merits such a healthy premium. It could prove a wise buy ahead of that full-year update next month.
Greggs (LSE: GRG) is another growth hero I’d happily buy before upcoming financials. Full-year numbers are slated for March 3 and I’m not alone in expecting another blowout release.
For me, Britain’s favourite baker is a brilliant mix of the old and the new. Hot tea, jam doughnuts and sausage rolls are the sort of things that never go out of fashion. They can be relied on to keep the tills filled with cash whatever the state of broader retail conditions. And Greggs has added to the robustness that these products provide to the top line through innovation.
Most recently it’s the booming popularity of its vegan products like the ‘sausage’ roll and ‘steak’ bake that has commanded plenty of attention. But Greggs has a great pedigree when it comes to introducing products that the public loves. It has its finger firmly on the pulse of changing consumer tastes, a skill that has allowed it to reliably grow annual earnings for donkey’s years. Before those vegan-friendly options came along, the company’s improved coffee blends and healthy options flew off the shelves, for example.
Baking on gas
And I’m excited to see what the Newcastle-based baker has up its sleeve. The booming market for foods containing zero animal products alone presents Greggs with plenty of scope to grow profits. It’s why City analysts expect annual earnings to expand 7% in both 2020 and 2021.
I’m fully expecting Greggs to relate a strong start to the new year when it puts out that full-year update next week. And this could shove its share price to fresh record highs (it sits a fraction off last summer’s closing peak of £24.76).
A forward P/E ratio of 24.8 times is expensive on paper, sure. But I reckon that this is a fair valuation of Greggs’ long-running growth pedigree. I’d happily buy it for my ISA today.
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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Applegreen. 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.