While 2016 still has a few months left to run, it has been a great year thus far for the FTSE 100. The index has risen by 13% since the start of the year despite an uncertain outlook caused in part by Brexit. Looking ahead, these two companies could prove to be among the top performers in the index in 2017.
Although the Whitbread(LSE: WTB) share price has fallen by 14% in 2016, the owner of Costa and Premier Inn could deliver significant capital gains next year. In terms of its hotel chain, Whitbread is still focused on the budget segment. If UK economic growth slows and businesses and individuals begin to trade down to cheaper options, Whitbread's Premier Inn chain could see a boost in demand.
Similarly, Costa has a bright future too since coffee has become a consumer staple rather than a discretionary item. This means that even if unemployment rises and economic growth flatlines, its profitability should still be high.
Whitbread is forecast to increase its earnings by 7% in the next financial year. While this is only in line with the growth forecasts for the wider index, in the long run Whitbread's international expansion could deliver significantly higher rates of growth. When coupled with its high degree of customer loyalty and sound financial standing, this means that it could be a top performer in 2017 and beyond.
Certainly, rising wage costs could prove to be a problem for Whitbread. However, this is an industry-wide issue and it may find that much of the increase can be passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.
Also offering excellent total return potential in 2017 is Coca-Cola HBC (LSE: CCH). Its rapid rate of earnings growth is expected to continue beyond 2016, with its bottom line forecast to rise by 15% this year and by a further 13% next year.
At a time when the wider economic growth rate in the UK and Europe could come under pressure, relatively resilient growth from Coca-Cola HBC could prove popular with many investors. As such, its price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 1.6 could rise significantly and allow its share price to do likewise.
It also offers sound income prospects. Although it now yields just 2% following the 26% rise in its share price in 2016, Coca-Cola HBC pays out just 46% of its profit as a dividend. For a company with relatively stable earnings and which operates in a mature industry, this is a low payout ratio. As such, there's scope for dividends to increase significantly, starting with 2017 when they're forecast to rise by 11.4%.
With UK interest rates being just 0.25% and having the potential to move lower, Coca-Cola HBC's dividend growth potential could positively catalyse its share price. Alongside its appealing valuation and high growth prospects, this makes it an excellent buy for 2017 and beyond.
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Peter Stephens owns shares of Whitbread. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.