The FTSE 100’s 32% crash since the start of the year could continue in the coming weeks. The situation regarding coronavirus is impossible to accurately predict. That may lead to investors demanding even wider margins of safety from large-cap shares.
However, valuations now suggest there could be opportunities for long-term investors. Many FTSE 100 stocks offer wide margins of safety and the potential for improving returns in the coming years.
As such, now could be the right time to buy these two stocks as part of a diverse ISA portfolio, and hold them for the long run.
AstraZeneca’s (LSE: AZN) defensive characteristics have been evident in recent weeks. Its shares are down by 10% in 2020, which is less than a third of the FTSE 100’s decline.
The company is less reliant on the world economy’s performance for its sales. But disruption to global supply chains and weak economic performance may have a negative impact on the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical giant’s performance in the near term.
However, AstraZeneca’s recent updates have shown it’s making headway in delivering improving financial performance. For example, its new medicines recorded sales growth of 62% last year. Since they now make up 42% of its total product sales, they’re likely to have a significant impact on its future financial performance.
The stock’s recent decline means that it appears to offer relatively good value for money. It’s forecast to post a rise in its bottom line of 27% next year. Trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 21. And having a defensive business model means that now could be the right time to buy a slice of AstraZeneca and hold those shares for the long run.
While AstraZeneca offers defensive characteristics, other FTSE 100 stocks, such as RBS (LSE: RBS), have fallen by a much greater amount than the index in recent weeks. The bank’s share price is down by 52% since the start of the year, as investors have reacted to a challenging outlook for the UK economy.
Furthermore, the banking sector may find the task of generating improving returns more difficult in a low interest rate environment. With interest rates at historic lows and monetary policy likely to remain accommodative over the medium term, the financial prospects for the banking industry could prove to be challenging.
However, RBS now trades on a P/E ratio of around 6. This suggests investors have priced in the potential difficulties it may face, and that it now offers a wide margin of safety.
Certainly, it may experience further declines in the short run. But, with its recent results showing an improving operational performance from the bank, now could be a buying opportunity. That’s the case for long-term investors who can accept short-term volatility for high-potential rewards in the coming years.
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Peter Stephens owns shares of AstraZeneca and Royal Bank of Scotland Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca. 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.