The fresh sell-off at the start of May has left plenty of British blue chips looking too cheap to miss. I’d certainly buy GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) today. It’s failed to track its FTSE 100 rival AstraZeneca higher in recent weeks. And this leaves it dealing on an undemanding forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14 times and carrying a chunky 5% dividend yield, too.
The earnings outlook at Glaxo is always at risk of high-profile failures at the lab bench. Setbacks here can cost many millions in lost revenues and extra costs. But this particular pharma giant has a terrific R&D record. You don’t become one of the world’s largest drugs producers by accident. Just this week its Zejula treatment for patients with ovarian cancer received the approval of Food and Drug Administration officials in the US to keep its proud record going.
Recent successes are also why group sales rocketed 19% in the first quarter of 2020, to £9.1bn. It’s likely that revenues will keep booming as its packed product pipeline delivers the goods, too. In the near term, demand for its medicines won’t be hit by the coronavirus outbreak, such is the essential nature of these products. And over the long term Glaxo can expect a combination of growing global populations and rising healthcare investment in emerging markets to drive sales of its treatments.
Another FTSE 100 star
RSA Insurance Group is another Footsie share worthy of consideration today. A prospective earnings multiple of 8 times sits well below the bargain benchmark of 10 times and below. It’s a reading which fails to reflect the resilience of insurance goliaths like this in times of severe macroeconomic upheaval.
This particular blue chip’s diversified product lines, encompassing the likes of home, motor, travel and pet cover, provides it with additional safety. Investors can also take heart from RSA’s drive to improve underwriting to support earnings in these hard times. Such measures helped the FTSE 100 firm to print record underwriting profits in 2019.
A sweet selection
I’d also stock up on shares in Coca-Cola HBC for May. The drinks giant isn’t likely to be as resilient as FTSE 100 compatriots Glaxo or RSA as lockdown measures persist. Indeed, demand from the ‘out-of-home’ segment is set to be hit hard as citizens all over Europe are forced to stay indoors.
I reckon that Coca-Cola HBC will fare resolutely as quarantine measures are steadily unwound, though. Fast-moving consumer goods (or FMCGs) with titanic brand power like this usually fare better than the broader market in tough economic times. I don’t expect demand for the world’s best-loved soft drink to sink during the upcoming coronavirus-linked global recession, then.
And Coca-Cola HBC certainly looks cheap compared with some other FTSE 100-quoted FMCG stars. It trades on an earnings multiple of around 17 times for 2020. By comparison, Reckitt Benckiser Group and Diageo for example trade on forward P/E ratios in the mid-20s. I’d happily buy this large cap for my own ISA.
Royston Wild owns shares of Diageo. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Diageo. 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.