My top FTSE 100 buys in this market slump
I'm currently looking for blue-chip stocks to add to my portfolio. They have to be insulated from wider market turbulence and will continue to produce returns no matter what the FTSE 100 does over the rest of the year.
That's why I'm considering Hargreaves Lansdown(LSE: HL) because it's one of the UK's largest investor platforms. The great thing about this business is that it should be able to profit no matter what the market is doing. If markets do nothing for the next four years, Hargreaves should see a steady flow of income from management fees charged to investor portfolios. On the other hand, if volatility returns, the company should see a boost in commission revenue generated.
Whatever the weather
The ability to profit in all market environments should mean that this company will continue to produce steady returns for shareholders going forward. At the beginning of this month, the firm announced that it was increasing its interim dividend by 17% following a 17% increase in net revenue and 12% jump in profit before tax for the six months to the end of December. City analysts are expecting earnings per share to grow by 12% for the full-year and then 14% for the following fiscal period.
As well as this attractive growth rate, the company also has a robust balance sheet with a net cash balance of £276m reported for the end of 2017. This gives management plenty of firepower to continue to reinvest in the business and support dividend growth.
Unfortunately, the one downside about this stock is its valuation. The shares currently trade at a forward P/E of 34.3, which is exceptionally expensive. But when you consider the group's historic growth rate, sector-leading profit margins, cash-rich balance sheet and ability to continue to profit in all market environments, I believe that it is a price worth paying.
Another company that I believe should be able to continue to produce returns for investors no matter what the market does over the next few years is marketing agency WPP(LSE: WPP). Shares in this firm have recently come under pressure due to investor concerns about its ability to continue to grow as clients cut advertising spending.
Following these declines, the shares are now trading at one of the lowest valuations ever assigned to the business at only 10.9 times forward earnings. As well as this attractive earnings multiple, the stock supports a dividend yield of 4.6% and the payout is covered twice by earnings per share.
But what about those concerns about WPP's ability to compete in the increasingly competitive advertising sector? Well, WPP warned on sales growth several times last year and the company may continue to struggle in 2018. Nonetheless, as the world's largest advertising agency, it's well placed to ride out the slowdown and come out stronger by acquiring weaker peers. Indeed, WPP has always been a highly active acquirer which has helped the business grow faster than the rest of the market.
I believe that this is set to continue and the group's size should enable it to retain customers due to its unrivalled offering.
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Rupert Hargreaves owns no share mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Hargreaves Lansdown. 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.