Every investor wants to beat the rest of the market, but outperforming the FTSE 100 isn't as easy as it first seems. You need to pick your bets carefully if you want to outsmart the rest of the investment community.
Today I'm looking at two companies that might help you do just that.
Unloved and underappreciated
Vehicle rental specialist Northgate(LSE: NTG) is the company investors love to hate and for good reason. Over the past five years, the stock has produced a total return of 5.9% per annum, and over the past 10 years, it has delivered a total return of -9.3% per annum -- that's including dividends.
So, why do I think the performance is going to change any time soon?
Well, Northgate is currently in the middle of a transformation programme. At the beginning of October last year, management outlined a set of self-help measures to help improve profit margins and returns on invested capital.
And it seems as if these efforts are already starting to pay off. In a trading update issued today, Northgate announced that the number of vehicles on hire (VOH) for the fiscal quarter ended 30 April increased 7.9% year-on-year to 85,700 mainly thanks to the group's Spanish operations (around 50% of the business) where the number of VOH during the period grew 14.1%.
According to management, this growth reflects "the continuing success of Northgate's cross-selling and bundled propositions." The firm has also been able to benefit from the collapse of a competitor, which allowed it to acquire 3,200 vehicles (as well as customers) at what is likely to be a knockdown price.
City analysts had been expecting the company to report a decline in earnings per share for fiscal 2018 of 26%, but looking at the above numbers, I believe these estimates are too conservative. With this being the case, I also think Northgate's current valuation of 11 times estimated forward earnings undervalues the business and its current prospects.
Another company I'm positive on the outlook for is Evraz(LSE: EVR).
This FTSE 100 constituent is already beating the broader index in 2018. The stock is up 50% year-to-date compared to a gain of just 0.4% for the FTSE 100 excluding dividends.
There could be further gains for the shares ahead as investors wake up to the opportunity here. For example, based on current City estimates, shares in Evraz are trading at a forward P/E of just 6.8, as earnings per share are expected to leap 57% this year. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the business the company operates in -- the production of steel and related commodities -- earnings are naturally volatile, so next year analysts have pencilled in a decline of 31% in earnings per share.
Still, Evraz has a history of returning all excess cash generated from operations to investors. The company is not expected to break from tradition this year and analysts have pencilled in a prospective dividend yield of 8.1% for the full year, followed by a 6.3% for 2019.
Put simply, even though earnings are expected to slide, Evraz is set to remain a dividend champion, and this should help the company outperform the broader market on a total return basis.
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Rupert Hargreaves owns no share mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Northgate. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.