LONDON -- I've been popping stocks into my shopping basket in recent weeks, and it's about time I took one or two to the checkout. Here are five stocks I've found tempting, so should I buy any of them?
Global brewing giant SABMiller looks and tastes like a premium strength lager, offering a heady blend of fizzy prospects and potent growth from brands such as Peroni, Grolsch, Miller, and Pilsner Urquell. It has punchy brand marketing and a diverse global reach, with revenues growing strongly in China, Latin America, and Africa, which is on course to be the world's biggest beer market. SABMiller's tremendous economies of scale allow it to standardize its back-office functions and swallow new acquisitions such as Fosters without a burp. If beer isn't to your taste, it has a large soft drinks business as well. SABMiller is the world's second biggest brewer, after Anheuser Busch InBev, but one thing isn't to my taste. Like a premium lager, it comes at a price. Trading on a P/E of around 20 times earnings, and with a yield below 2%, it looks a little toppy for me.
It isn't often you encounter a stock trading on 24 times earnings, so you would expect a jolly good reason for it. Precious metals miner Fresnillo has got a fat price on its head, especially when you consider that the mining sector trades on an average P/E of around 7%. It is the world's largest silver producer, however, which many investors have been buying instead of pricey gold. With gold trading at $1,677 an ounce and an ounce of silver costing just $32, you can see the attraction. With the world on a brink of a currency war, and central bankers' printing presses still white hot, precious metals prices could rise even higher. Yet Fresnillo has lost its shine lately, plummeting from a 12-month high of 19.93 pounds to 16.84 pounds in the last couple of months, trimming its sky-high valuation of 30 times earnings. Earnings per share growth, currently 48%, is forecast to plunge to -9%. More QE, and more good news from China, could reverse the recent slide, but I would still prefer a cheaper entry point.
British Sky Broadcasting (LSE:SKY)
I've been monitoring British Sky Broadcasting Group for some time, and was duly impressed by its positive half-year results, published a few days ago. BSkyB showed it still knows how to attract new customers, securing another 88,000 in Q2, and better still, selling extra services to existing customers. That takes its total subscription product base to 29.5 million, a rise of 10% on last year. Average revenue per user was 564 pounds, up 24 pounds. BSkyB remains impressively innovative, launching new products such as Sky Go mobile services and On Demand downloads. It sports channels remain a huge draw, and Now TV offers non-subscribers the chance to pay for major events on the Internet, with 9.99 pounds giving access to all six channels for 24 hours. There are worries it has overpaid for Premier League football, and remains vulnerable to a challenge from a moneybags competitor. Consumer spending isn't exactly limitless, and movie download services such as Netflix remain a threat, but BSkyB remains riveting viewing for investors willing to take a little risk in return for strong growth prospects and a 3.6% yield.
Tate & Lyle (LSE:TATE)
All that is sweet isn't necessarily sugar. Tate & Lyle may have sold its historic sugar business in 2010, but it remains a major player in the $1.2 billion global sweetener business. Its no-calorie sweetener, Splenda Sucralose, has 26% of the global sweetener market and 89% of the sucralose market. Put that in your tea and drink it. Its corn wet milling business processes maize to create a range of products, including food and drinks, paper, and animal feed. This business remains vulnerable to volatile corn prices, and the increasingly global volatile climate, as we saw during last year's hot summer, when the U.S. corn crop was blighted by fungus aflatoxin. This hasn't worried the market, with its share price rising 23% over the past six months. The group recently reported a solid start to the final quarter of 2012, but the market was disappointed by a dip in adjusted profit before tax, even though it was in line with expectations. Tate & Lyle faces several headwinds, and its growth prospects look modest. That's reflected in the evaluation, which has slipped to 14 times earnings, but I would have hoped for a better yield than 3.1%, especially given a small forecast EPS drop.
Reckitt Benckiser (LSE:RB)
I wouldn't be tempted by many stocks trading on 17 times earnings with a yield below 3%, but this household goods giant is an exception. Reckitt Benckiser has been cleaning up as the world's consumer pop everyday brands such Air Wick, Clearasil, Calgon, Dettol, Harpic, Nurofen, Strepsils, and Vanish into their shopping baskets. How many of those products are sitting in your cupboards? Its lesser-known pharmaceutical division has also been growing strongly. This isn't a shoot-the-lights out stock, more of a keep-the-lights-on stock. Investors aren't complaining about that, everybody needs the odd Steady Eddie in their portfolio, and this is as steady as it gets. With so many analysts predicting a correction right now, Reckitt Benckiser might be a good stock to dive into. Assuming, that is, it falls with everything else. Given its defensive qualities, you may struggle to find a cheaper entry price.
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