I'm certain that electricity network operator National Grid (LSE: NG) is one of the best stocks out there for those seeking dependable earnings and dividend growth year after year.
Of course the essential nature of electricity demand puts the company in the box seat when it comes to earnings visibility. But this isn't National Grid's only trump card -- indeed, RIIO price controls in the UK are helping the business to keep a firm lid on its costs.
And National Grid is embarking on an aggressive expansion scheme on both sides of the Atlantic to keep the bottom line booming, with a view to expanding its asset base by between 5% and 7% per year. Speaking of which, the firm received good news from the US this week when Massachusetts lawmakers permitted the first electricity rate hike since 2010.
Expected earnings growth of 1% and 3% in the periods to March 2017 and 2018 respectively results in P/E ratios of 17.3 times and 16.9 times, just above that of the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) but still delivering decent value given National Grid's terrific defensive qualities.
And predicted dividends of 44.4p per share for 2017 and 45.6p for next year create jumbo yields of 4% and 4.1%. These figures outstrip the Footsie average of 3.5% by some distance.
The hit-and-miss nature of medicines development was laid bare by industry giant AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) in Tuesday trading.
The Cambridge-based business announced that its Brilinta circulation booster had failed to display benefits versus an older blood thinner. A a result, the company has now binned its $3.5bn sales target for the drug for 2016, Brilinta head Ludovic Helfgott told Reuters.
But that's not to say AstraZeneca isn't making headway elsewhere. Newly-launched labels like cancer treatments Tagrisso and Lynparza are flying off the shelves, and the company has 145 other projects in the pipeline in fast-growing sectors like respiratory and diabetes.
Indeed, I expect the huge sums AstraZeneca has thrown into developing the next generation of sales drivers -- along with booming healthcare demand across the globe -- to deliver huge rewards well into the future.
The drugs powerhouse isn't expected to bounce back into the black just yet though, with AstraZeneca expected to extend four successive earnings bumps. But predicted declines of 3% for both 2016 and 2017 indicate that the revenues rot is finally coming to an end.
These City projections result in P/E ratings of 15.8 times and 16.3 times, peeking above the big-cap average of 15 times. I reckon this represents a fantastic level on which to leap onto AstraZeneca's rapidly-improving sales outlook.
And for pure value investors, I also reckon estimated dividends of 280 US cents per share for this year and next provide welcome tonic from these marginally-heady multiples. These dividend forecasts yield a market-busting 4.3%.
Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended AstraZeneca. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.