The unparalleled brand power of Unilever (LSE: ULVR) goods has long made it a favourite for those seeking earnings growth year after year. And the City doesn't expect this rude run to come to a halt any time soon.
The number crunchers anticipate Unilever to have punched a 6% earnings advance in 2016. And further rises are predicted through to the end of next year at least (growth of 9% and 8% is forecasted for 2017 and 2018).
These projections make Unilever slightly expensive at first glance, the company sporting P/E ratios of 19.5 times for this year and 18 times for 2018, above the FTSE 100 historical average of 15 times. But I reckon this premium is pretty mild given the firm's strong sales outlook.
Labels like Dove soap, Marmite spread and Magnum ice cream command customer loyalty like few others, enabling the business to keep growing revenues regardless of broader economic pressures. And the dollops of cash Unilever is dedicating to promote and introduce these products across global markets is blasting demand from new and established customers alike ever higher.
While Bunzl (LSE: BNZL) may not have the sort of brand power sported by Unilever, I believe the indispensable nature of its products also makes it a robust growth pick.
Earnings expansion is expected to moderate slightly following an expected 11% rise in 2016 -- advances of 8% and 4% are chalked in for this year and next. However, the company's broad geographical spread protects it from economic challenges in individual regions, and should keep pushing profits higher in the years ahead.
And Bunzl has both the appetite and financial ammunition to keep bolstering its global presence through shrewd acquisitions. Indeed, the support services star announced the acquisition of British and US-based packaging experts Woodway and Packaging Film Sales just this week, and follows on from a cluster of takeovers in 2016.
I reckon Bunzl's strong defensive qualities more than merit slightly-heady P/E ratios of 19.4 times and 18.6 times for 2016 and 2017.
Soaring sales growth in Asia makes Prudential (LSE: PRU) one of the hottest long-term growth bets out there, in my opinion.
A combination of rising income levels and rampant population growth is helping drive demand for insurance products into the stratosphere. But the market still remains hugely under-penetrated, and Prudential is putting itself in the box seat to capitalise on this through clever product development and expansion in the region. These measures helped to drive new business profits from the continent 23% higher during July-September.
So while the City expects The Pru to have experienced a rare earnings dip in 2016 -- a 10% fall is currently predicted -- the company is expected to get back in business with rises of 14% this year and 8% in 2018.
And these forward forecasts produce ultra-low P/E ratios of 12.2 times and 11.2 times for 2017 and 2018 respectively. I reckon growth hunters need to give Prudential serious attention at current prices.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.