The Motley Fool

Terry Smith has sold these 2 top British stocks. Here’s what I’d do now

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Clock pointing towards a 'sell' signal
Image source: Getty Images.

As the UK’s most popular fund manager, when Fundsmith’s Terry Smith sells top British stocks it’s worth paying attention.

In November, he dropped consumer goods giant Reckitt (LSE: RKT), formerly Reckitt Benckiser Group, from his flagship investment fund Fundsmith Equity. In February, he ejected quality assurance provider Intertek Group (LSE: ITRK), which I wrote about recently and said looked pricey but still a long-term buy for me.

5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!

According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…

And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential...

Last month, it was the turn of Sage Group (LSE: SGE) to feel Mr Smith’s boot. He’s a supremely successful stock picker and it makes me wonder whether I should rule out buying these top British stocks for my own portfolio.

Would I sell these FTSE 100 stocks?

I have a personal interest, because Reckitt has long been one of my favourite FTSE 100 stocks. It promotes a broad portfolio of popular everyday brands such as Air Wick, Harpic, Dettol and Nurofen, that shoppers buy in bad times as well as good. I considered it a top British stock, even though it is relatively expensive. Today, it trades at 21 times earnings.

The Reckitt share price shot up in the early days of the pandemic, as people spent more on cleaning products, but then doubts set in. After November’s vaccine breakthroughs, investors decided other British stocks would reap greater rewards.

Reckitt is down 9% over the last year, and 7% over five years. It looks like Terry Smith has had enough. The forecast yield of 2.7%, covered 1.7 times by earnings, was not enough to tempt him to stay. Yet I would still consider Reckitt for my own portfolio, as a defensive stock delivering long-term growth and income. It recently posted a 4% rise in Q1 sales, while digital revenues jumped an impressive 24%. As it invests £2bn in developing new products, it remains a top British stock and would merit a place in my own portfolio, whatever Terry Smith thinks of it. If I’d already bought, I wouldn’t sell today.

Sage offers integrated accounting, payroll and payments solutions to businesses around the world. Four years ago, Goldman Sachs rated it a top British stock, as it migrated to a subscription-based model, which offered more cross-selling opportunities, and enjoyed high customer renewal rates.

Subsequent performance has been disappointing. The Sage share price is up just 5% over five years. It hasn’t even benefited from the recent stock market rally. Again, it looks like Mr Smith has had enough, but what about me?

I still rate these top British stocks

Last month’s first-half results showed underlying operating profit falling 11% to £191m, as profit margins shrank from 23.2% to 20.2%. This was primarily down to increased spending on marketing and product development, to promote its new cloud operation. Management said margins should improve, as this investment drives growth.

Personally, I like to see a company investing in its future, even if it takes a short-term hit. I also like the fact that Sage has been paying down debt, from £238m to £96m in the last year. It still looks like a top British stock to me. I would consider buying it for my portfolio, even if Mr Smith doesn’t have space in his.

This one may be even better.

One FTSE “Snowball Stock” With Runaway Revenues

Looking for new share ideas?

Grab this FREE report now.

Inside, you discover one FTSE company with a runaway snowball of profits.

From 2015-2019…

  • Revenues increased 38.6%.
  • Its net income went up 19.7 times!
  • Since 2012, revenues from regular users have almost DOUBLED

The opportunity here really is astounding.

In fact, one of its own board members recently snapped up 25,000 shares using their own money...

So why sit on the side lines a minute longer?

You could have the full details on this company right now.

Grab your free report – while it’s online.

Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Sage Group. 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.

Our 6 'Best Buys Now' Shares

Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.

So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we're offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our 'no quibbles' 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee.

Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this.