Will Diageo plc, Fevertree Drinks PLC & Britvic Plc Beat The FTSE 100 This Year?

Photo: Diageo

Shares in beverages company Fevertree(LSE: FEVR) were given a boost today with the release of an impressive set of full-year results. The company's top line increased by 71% in 2015, with an improved gross profit margin (up 120 basis points) helping adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) to increase by 82%.

Encouragingly, Fevertree delivered sales growth across all of its regions and across all of its flavours. It also made significant distribution gains in both the On and Off-Trade in the UK, while being named the bestselling tonic water in Drinks International's survey of the world's top 250 bars. As such, it appears as though the company is moving in the right direction and could be on the cusp of delivering yet more growth in the coming years.

In fact, earnings growth of 21% is forecast for the current year, while additional growth of 14% is pencilled-in for 2018. Despite this, now doesn't appear to be the right time to buy a slice of the business, since its valuation appears to fully take into account its upbeat prospects. For example, Fevertree has a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 2.5 and while it's a top notch company, it may fail to beat the FTSE 100 this year.

Play a waiting game

Also trading on a relatively high valuation is fellow beverages company Britvic(LSE: BVIC). Like Fevertree, it has a bright outlook and is performing well as a business. For example, in the current year Britvic is forecast to record a rise in earnings of 5%, followed by further growth of 7% next year. And with it having a stable of high quality brands that benefit from significant customer loyalty, thereby giving Britvic a relatively wide economic moat, it appears to be a business that's worthy of investment.

However, with Britvic's shares having a PEG ratio of 2.1, they seem to offer limited upside. That's especially the case while the FTSE 100 has such an appealing range of opportunities on offer. As such, it may be worth waiting for a keener share price before piling into Britvic.

Think defensively

Also trading on a relatively high valuation is Diageo(LSE: DGE). It has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 21.4 and while this may seem rather unappealing, there's scope for it to rise. That's because Diageo has a superb range of brands that include a number of the bestselling drinks in a wide range of categories. This provides it with a wider economic moat than Britvic or Fevertree and with Diageo operating in a wide range of markets, it appears to be relatively defensive, too.

With Diageo's bottom line expected to rise by 9% next year, there's a clear catalyst to push its share price higher. And with the company offering a yield of 3.1% from a dividend covered 1.5 times by profit, its income appeal remains high. As such, it appears to be well-placed to beat the FTSE 100 in 2016.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Britvic and Diageo. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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