When analysing stocks, it's important to not only look at past performance, but also consider future prospects too. With that in mind, I recently screened the FTSE 100 index for companies set to grow their sales by over 10% this year. I was surprised to find that the screen only listed nine companies. Here's a look at two of them.
According to analysts' projections, sales at Reckitt Benckiser(LSE: RB) are forecast to grow 18.7% this year. Sales of £11,739m are forecast for FY2017, a significant rise on last year's figure of £9,485m. While that sounds like a fantastic growth rate, a closer inspection reveals that the short-term outlook for the company may not be as upbeat as the numbers suggest.
The consumer goods giant reported Q3 numbers this past week, and while year-to-date revenue was up 20%, this was a result of both the acquisition of Mead Johnson Nutrition and FX gains. Like-for-like sales actually fell 1%. Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor described the environment as "challenging."
Having said that, the CEO was very upbeat about the group's medium and long-term prospects. The company has recently split itself into two key divisions, RB Health and RB Hygiene Home, and Kapoor stated that the business units will provide a platform for "growth and outperformance" going forward.
Reckitt Benckiser is a stock that I would definitely like to add to my portfolio one day. Having said that, on a punchy forward P/E ratio of 20.7, and dividend yield of just 2.2%, I'm not seeing a huge amount of value at present. As a result, I'm going to sit on the sidelines for now and wait for a more attractive entry point.
Also forecast to record significant sales growth this year is international equipment rental company Ashtead(LSE: AHT). City analysts expect revenue growth of 12.3% this year, with a top line figure of £3,578m currently pencilled in.
Ashtead has been a standout performer over the last five years, with annualised sales growth of an amazing 23% propelling the stock over 400% higher. Can investors expect the stock to keep surging higher at that rate?
Q1 results released in September were solid, with rental revenue growing 17% (at constant currency), operating profit increasing 20% and earnings per share rising 21%. Chief executive Geoff Drabble noted that the clean-up efforts and rebuild programmes of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were boosting demand for Ashtead's fleet, and that the board was looking to the medium term "with confidence."
On a forward P/E ratio of 15.8, Ashtead's valuation doesn't look stretched at present, in my view. With that in mind, I can foresee further share price gains to come for long-term investors, although I'm not sure such gains will be as prolific as those seen in recent years.
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Edward Sheldon has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Reckitt Benckiser. 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.