2 FTSE 350 stars to consider buying before it's too late!

Whitbread costa coffee machine
Whitbread costa coffee machine

Budget greetings-card behemoth Card Factory(LSE: CARD) gave investors cause to break out the bunting in Thursday's session following the release of bubbly trading numbers. The business announced that total sales rose 4.3% during the 11 months to December 31, while like-for-like sales edged 0.4% higher during the period.


Cause for celebration

And Card Factory saw sales growth tick higher during the crunch Christmas period, a factor that helped "cumulative like-for-likes for the fourth quarter of the financial year [return] to the historic range of 1% to 3%."

As a result Card Factory said that it expects underlying pre-tax profit for the full year to beat analysts' expectations of between £80.9m and £83m. The market responded to Card Factory's positive statement by sending its stock value 3% higher from Wednesday's close. But I believe the retailer offers plenty more bang for stock pickers' buck at current prices.

Card Factory is anticipated to bounce from a 1% earnings decline in the year to January 2017 with a 2% rise in fiscal 2018. This results in a P/E ratio of 12.9 times, some way below the London blue-chip average of 15 times. Meanwhile, a projected dividend of 9.1p per share creates a chunky 3.7% dividend yield.

With Card Factory planning to open around 50 stores each year, and rising inflation set to erode consumers' spending power, I expect sales at Card Factory to keep shooting higher.

Smell the coffee

Beverages and beds specialist Whitbread (LSE: WTB) also furnished the market with fresh financials during Thursday trading.

But a combination of patchy results for its Premier Inn division and mild profit-taking -- Whitbread's share price hit four-and-a-half-month highs last Friday -- saw the stock last dealing 5% lower on the day.

Whitbread announced that total sales at its hotel arm rose 9.2% during the 13 weeks to December 1, while like-for-like total revenues increasing 1.8% higher from a year earlier. The impact of hotel expansion at Premier Inn, however, saw revenues per available room (or REVPAR) slip 1.3% in the period.

In sunnier news, Whitbread's release underlined the improving popularity of Costa Coffee. Total sales at the unit soared 12.5% during the quarter -- a result that was attributed to the success of recent marketing campaigns -- and on an underlying basis revenues climbed 4.3%.

And Whitbread is embarking on aggressive expansion to keep sales rising across the business. The company has a pipeline of some 14,000 new Premier Inn rooms in the UK alone. And expansion at Costa Coffee will see between 230 and 250 net new shops, and at least 1,500 Costa Express machines, unveiled worldwide.

The City certainly expects Whitbread's long-running growth story to continue, and anticipates a 1% bottom-line rise in the period to February 2017, to be followed by a 6% advance in fiscal 2018.

I reckon a consequent P/E ratio of 15.2 times for next year is great value, given Whitbread's exciting growth strategy and roaring success with consumers across the globe.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. 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.