As the stormclouds look set to intensify around the UK economy in 2017, I reckon the protection afforded by Bunzl's (LSE: BNZL) weighty global footprint could prompt investors to pile in with gusto.
The company's outsourcing rivals Capita and Mitie Group have both been shaken since the summer as the Brexit conundrum has dented domestic business confidence. But Bunzl has avoided the worst of these troubles as it sources just 15% of group revenues from the UK and Ireland.
The support services giant announced in late October that "overall performance [since June 30] is consistent with expectations at the time of the half year results announcement in August." Indeed, Bunzl advised that recent acquisitions at home and abroad had helped revenues tick 7% higher in the period.
And Bunzl remains busy on the M&A path to bolster its revenues outlook, and last month captured French medical and personal protection specialists Prorisk and GM Equipement as well as Denmark's Sæbe Compagniet, a provider of cleaning and hygiene-related products.
Unlike its sector peers, the City remains convinced that earnings should keep on rising at Bunzl, and has pencilled-in an 8% rise for 2017. While a consequent P/E ratio of 18.1 times may be above the FTSE 100 prospective average of 15 times, I believe the security created by Bunzl's broad operations and huge geographic footprint merits such a premium.
A tasty treat
I reckon the recent share price weakness at Bunzl creates an attractive base on which to invest. And the same can be said for household goods leviathan Unilever (LSE: ULVR), in my opinion -- the firm's share price has fallen 16% since early October.
While rising inflation could put the pressure on household spending in 2017, I believe Unilever should avoid the worst of these troubles thanks to the terrific pricing power of goods such as Persil washing powder and Dove soap.
The unrivalled strength of the manufacturer's labels was perfectly illustrated by Morrisons' decision to raise prices of Unilever's goods by as much as 12.5% in October. Formidable customer loyalty is allowing Unilever to successfully pass on the headwinds created by adverse sterling movements to shoppers, a critical tool for the months ahead as Brexit-related troubles look set to rumble on.
The number crunchers certainly expect Unilever to keep punching stunning earnings growth into next year, the firm's global popularity helping protect it from the worst of a troubled British economy.
A 10% bottom-line advance is due for the coming year, and I believe a subsequent P/E ratio of 17.7 times represents is a bargain for a stock of Unilever's calibre.
I also reckon the vast international presence of Supergroup (LSE: SGP) should deliver stunning shareholder returns in the near term and beyond.
The Superdry designer saw retail revenues climb an incredible 25% during May-October, it announced last month, with strong performance in its 'development' markets of China and the US -- allied to exploding e-commerce sales -- continuing to drive the top line
Despite the fashion giant striding to 11-month peaks in recent sessions, I'm convinced Supergroup has what it takes to keep moving higher. A P/E ratio of 19.2 times for the period to April 2017 slips to just 17.1 times for the following fiscal period, created by predicted earnings expansion of 16% and 12% for these years.
I reckon Supergroup's ambitious expansion plan makes it one of the hottest growth stocks out there.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Supergroup. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.