Which of these FTSE 100 stocks — if any — should I purchase for my shares portfolio?
Time to ring up BT shares?
The BT share price has rocketed over the past 12 months thanks to the strong rebound in the UK economy. The telecoms titan has gained a spectacular 78% during that time. And it rose to its most expensive since mid-2019 above 206p earlier this month.
I can’t help thinking that investor demand for BT shares is looking a little frothy, however. Theoretically it’s well placed to ride the economic upturn. But there are numerous other profits threats that it faces a battle to overcome. It faces colossal costs as it builds full-fibre broadband access across the country. Competition remains fierce and it saw revenues fall a further 7% during the financial year to March 2021. Then there’s the little issue of BT’s debt levels: the company had a jaw-dropping £17.8bn worth of debt on its books at the year’s end.
Fans of BT believe that the company’s decision to possibly sell its BT Sport operations will herald a turning point in its fortunes as it pivots back towards telephone and broadband only. Some bulls also believe that fellow industry giant Altice USA’s acquisition of a 12% stake in the FTSE 100 business earlier this month will help BT as it continues its high-speed broadband rollout.
However, my concerns about BT’s outlook far outweigh any reasons I have to be chipper. The company is cheap and it trades on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10 times. But BT’s share price isn’t low enough to encourage me to invest.
A better FTSE 100 buy?
Diageo (LSE: DGE), on the other hand, can be considered quite expensive on paper. The drinks giant’s shares have long commanded a premium rating. But a forward P/E multiple of around 30 times is high even by its own historical standards.
Diageo’s share price has risen around 30% over the past year. This is even as the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has raised questions over when the global hospitality sector will get back on its feet, and curbs on social gatherings have persisted. FTSE 100 investors have chosen to look on the bright side and have been encouraged by Diageo’s recent comments that the business “has continued to deliver a good recovery across all regions.”
I actually already own Diageo shares in my Stocks and Shares ISA. I bought it on account of its market-leading, cash-generating labels like Captain Morgan rum, Guinness stout, and Smirnoff vodka. These brands are beloved all over the world, and the business has a great track record of product innovation and successful marketing to maintain their unrivalled allure with drinkers.
I remain convinced that Diageo, unlike BT, will generate huge long-term returns for me as a share investor. But at current prices, I think I might be tempted to use my investment cash on other FTSE 100 shares.
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Royston Wild owns shares of Diageo. 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.