Medicines mammoth Hikma Pharmaceuticals(LSE: HIK) continued its recovery from a shocking second half of 2016 in February, the stock advancing 18% during the course of the month.
The pharmaceuticals space has been a popular destination for share investors seeking safe havens, the broad global footprint of their operations -- allied with the essential nature of their products -- providing peace of mind as another year of political and economic uncertainty beckons.
Hikma's last trading statement in November however, caused a fresh frenzy of selling activity as worse-than-expected volume growth of its Generics products forced it to warn that full-year group sales would come in at the lower end of expectations, at $2bn.
As a consequence, Hikma is expected to record another bottom-line decline in 2016 by City analysts -- a 33% drop is currently anticipated.
Having said that, the huge potential of Hikma's Generics business in the long term remains undimmed, and the firm expects revenues here alone to rise by a third in 2017 from last year's levels thanks to expected product rollouts. But this is not the only cause for optimism as the massive investment made at its Injectables division is blasting demand higher.
The number crunchers expect these factors to deliver growth of 38% and 29% in 2017 and 2018 respectively. And while Hikma deals on a forward P/E rating of 20 times, sitting above the FTSE 100 average of 15 times, I reckon the healthcare giant's solid growth outlook -- in the near-term and beyond -- warrants such a premium.
Plane-building powerhouse Rolls-Royce (LSE: RR) also enjoyed a stellar share price charge in February, the stock gaining 19% in value in an often-volatile period.
It saw an eye-watering £4.6bn pre-tax loss in 2016, it announced last month, the biggest in its history. As well as suffering a £4.4bn currency hedge-book hit due to sterling weakness, Rolls-Royce also swallowed a £671m penalty from UK, US and Brazilian regulators in order to draw a line under bribery allegations made in overseas markets.
However, investors breathed a sigh of relief as full-year results were not as bad as many had feared. After-market services revenues in the civil aerospace segment are showing signs of tentative improvement, for example. And Rolls-Royce's modernisation programme is also moving ahead of schedule -- indeed, savings last year of £60m beat the targeted range of £30m-£50m.
After three years of consecutive earnings dips, the City expects Rolls-Royce to get back into gear with a 7% rise in 2017, before returning to double-digit growth with a 17% advance in 2018.
But the engineer is clearly still loaded with risk, with subdued demand for wide-body aircraft hampering sales of Rolls-Royce's power units, and capex reductions in the oil market still casting shadows over its Marine division. And some would argue Rolls-Royce is therefore unbefitting of an elevated forward P/E ratio of 24.4 times.
I reckon the company may struggle to add to February's gains.
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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hikma Pharmaceuticals. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.