Sometimes the most unglamorous stocks can improve the most exciting investments. The following three packaging companies are hardly household names, but that won't bother investors given recent strong performance. So are they the full package or paper tigers?
Bunzl Is The Bundle
Bunzl(LSE: BNZL) makes its money from supplying companies with a range of not-for-resale goods such as food packaging, catering equipment, stationery, cleaning supplies, face masks and swabs. If that sounds dull, this certainly doesn't -- its share price is up 168% over the past five years, against just 3% growth on the FTSE 100.
Some investors may turn up their noses at a company whose idea of an exciting takeover bid involves buying into the German incontinence market, as it did recently by investing in two Berlin-based "healthcare consumables" companies, but where's there's muck there's brass. With Q1 results showing a 13% rise in group revenue at actual exchange rates, Bunzl is living up to expectations.
I tipped this stock is my favourite FTSE 100 unsung hero some years ago, and I'm still going a bundle on it today. Management can happily boast a "strong cash flow and balance sheet, together with a promising acquisition pipeline" and the only blot is the pricey valuation of 22.24 times earnings and lowly yield of 1.87%. So far, Bunzl has justified its premium valuation.
The Full Mondi
What is it about the packaging industry? International packaging and paper group Mondi(LSE: MNDI) is another paper heavyweight, growing 121% over the past five years. However, there has been slippage likely, with the stock down 12% in the past year.
Mondi, which operates in more than 30 countries, and across multiple industries, has diversification on its side. Its latest trading update showed a 9% rise in underlying operating profit compared to the final quarter of last year, to EUR246 million. Consumer packaging, and coated fine paper and its South Africa division all put in a strong performance, offsetting lower selling prices and margin pressure in other divisions.
Mondi is exposed to the huge growth area of global consumer packaging, thanks to the rise of online selling and emerging market consumerism. The company has been in the FTSE 100 since 2013 without grabbing the attention of investors, but trading at 12.93 times earnings and yielding 3.02%, and with forecast earnings per share growth of 6% this year and 3% next, it could be a company to take note of.
Global beverage can maker Rexam(LSE: REX) also packs a share price growth punch, rising 63% over five years. 2015 was a solid year, with sales up 2% to £3.93bn, although earnings were hit by currency fluctuations in currency and lower prices, with underlying operating profits down 3% to £404m. Chief executive Graham Chipcase has warned of a tough trading environment this year, but with continued volume growth.
Its ongoing tie-up with US can maker Ball Corporation should create a global packaging leader, boosting supply chain efficiency, cutting costs and driving efficiencies, although it has run into EU regulators who have forced £3 billion of asset disposals over competition concerns. However, it will mean you are holding a US company once the deal is in the can. This stock remains a tempting long-term hold, a company that does exactly what it says on the tin.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Rexam. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.