Investor sentiment has continued to pick up the pace during Tuesday afternoon business. The FTSE 100 was marching closer towards the late-5,000s and was up around 200 points from last night’s close.
Market makers are taking signs of slowing Covid-19 infection rates in badly-hit areas as an opportunity to do some dip buying. There are some terrific bargains waiting to be snapped up following the rampant selling since late February.
But investors shouldn’t get too giddy with high-risk or cyclical stocks. These remain unprecedented times, at least in modern history. The coronavirus outbreak could still deliver a sustained hammerblow to business worldwide.
It pays to stay well stocked up on stocks with strong defensive characteristics, then. That means companies whose profits remain largely unaffected by any global or regional trouble.
One such share I’d be happy to load up on today is Dechra Pharmaceuticals (LSE: DPH). Healthcare is one of the most popular havens in turbulent times like these. Our demand for medicines remains essential, irrespective of any social, economic, or political upheaval that might be going on in the background.
And the same goes for our pets. It’s why consumer spending on our furry friends for health, nutrition, or recreation purposes continues to go from strength to strength. According to the boffins at Grand View Research, the global petcare market will have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 4.9% between 2016 and 2025. This suggests it will be worth a staggering $202.6bn by the middle of the decade.
But Dechra doesn’t just provide treatments for so-called companion animals. It is also a major player in drugs supply for livestock, which boosts its defensive qualities still further. We all need to keep our stomachs full come what may. And pharma demand from farmers is likely to keep rising in line with rising meat consumption levels worldwide.
The FTSE 250 pharmaceuticals giant has so far proved immune to the problems created by the coronavirus outbreak. In late February’s half-year report it commented that “we have no direct or indirect revenues in China and we have sufficient inventory of Chinese sourced materials to deal with near term supply.”
Dechra did warn that an extended period of supply interruption would lead to it running out of materials. However, a sharp improvement in conditions in China suggests that the risk for the pharmaceuticals ace is receding. Lockdown measures are being eased across the country, and the Beijing government announced that yesterday was the first day of zero coronavirus-related deaths since January.
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Don’t think of Dechra as just a safe play for turbulent times, though. Aggressive acquisition activity has lit a fire under its annual earnings growth in recent years. The purchase of worldwide rights to the Mirataz line of products for £35m last month provides more steel to its already impressive product portfolio, too.
City analysts expect profits growth to slow to 3% in the fiscal year to June 2020. It’s expected to pick up to 20% in the following period, however. I’d happily buy this growth stock – even in spite of its high forward price-to-earnings ratio of around 25 times – to help me get rich and retire early.
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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.