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Friday, May 28, 2010

FMCG & Pharma Stocks To Buy Now

FMCG and pharma industries have always been well regarded as recession-busters. So much so that in market rallies, when these sectors start picking pace, market observers start predicting a correction.

Most of these stocks are slow gainers, but they hold the capacity to make a new all-time high in every bull-run. One main problem, however, is that owing to their market credibility and a long-history of superior performance, they don’t come in cheap.

Despite rising food inflation pressuring the profit margins of the company, Nestle India remains one of the priciest FMCG company on the Dalal Street with a price-to-earning (P/E) multiple of 42. Its market leadership in the niche product category of ready-to-eat food and dairy product has enabled its revenues and profits to grow at a strong pace. Despite the stretched valuations, it remains a classic defensive stock.

The diversified nature of ITC makes its business model de-risked. A stronger growth in its non-cigarette businesses is reducing its dependence on tobacco business for forging its future growth. Valued at little over six times its annual revenues and a (P/E) ratio of 26, the scrip appears reasonably valued with limited downside risk. Its ability to raise dividends year-after-year adds to its attractiveness.

Similarly, Dabur India’s non-cyclical product-mix in consumer care, healthcare, food and retail with strong brand recall and international presence makes it an attractive consumer business. The company has outperformed its peers in the past several quarters justifying its premium valuations at P/E of 32.

GSK Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) is a market leader in niche category of malt based health drinks with a portfolio of OTC drugs. Although its margins were affected by rising food prices, it has successfully kept competition at bay. Despite trading at high valuations, this company has limited downside risk given its niche product category and non-cyclical nature of its business.

GlaxoSmithKline Pharma is the third largest player in the domestic pharma market. Its established international lineage, consistent growth, market leadership in many therapeutic areas and strong brand equity work in its favour. The company is aggressively increasing its presence in various therapeutic areas and expanding its field force. Its stock is trading at a P/E of 33. While these are relatively high valuations, the company is a promising long-term buy - offering limited down side.

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