Shares in recruitment company Hays (LSE: HAS) have fallen by over 5% today after it released a rather mixed update for the first half of the year.
Although its net fees grew by 8% on a life-for-like (LFL) basis and operating profit moved 15% higher versus the first half of the prior year, Hays experienced rather weak performance in the UK and in Asia. The Australian economy in particular showed signs of a slowdown towards the end of the period.
As a result, UK and Ireland net fee growth of 3% was recorded in the six-month period, with Australian net fee income up by the same amount. Looking ahead, the company remains confident in its strategy, but remains cautious regarding continued uncertainties in the outlook for the global economy.
Of course, modest performance from certain regions was offset by strong performance in Europe and the rest of the world. This highlights the importance of geographic diversification, with one region being able to pick up the slack for slower growth elsewhere. And with Hays forecast to increase its bottom line by 11% this year and by a further 19% next year, it appears to offer excellent growth prospects at a very reasonable price. This is evidenced by a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 11.9, which is relatively low and indicates that now could be a good time to buy a slice of the business.
Growth surge ahead
Also offering global growth prospects is consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB). Its most recent set of results were highly encouraging and showed that the company is making excellent progress with its strategic initiatives. And while Reckitt Benckiser is forecast to increase its bottom line by just 3% in the current year, its earnings growth rate is due to rise to 9% in the next financial year.
Of course, the real opportunity with Reckitt Benckiser is with regard to long-term growth in developing markets. Demand for consumer goods is set to rapidly rise in China, India and other emerging economies and with Reckitt Benckiser already enjoying a significant degree of brand loyalty in those locations, its global growth outlook is very bright.
Certainly, the companys valuation is rather high, as evidenced by its P/E ratio of 24.1. But with such strong long-term growth prospects, now could be a good time to buy a slice of Reckitt Benckiser for investors who are comfortable paying a relatively high price for what is a high quality business.
Meanwhile, ARM (LSE: ARM) is another company with truly global growth opportunities. Although the popularity of Apples iPhone may be about to plateau, ARMs business model is likely to be able to adapt to changing demands and develop new intellectual property to provide it with further earnings growth.
In fact, ARM is a highly nimble and resilient business thats expected to grow its bottom line by 43% this year and by a further 13% next year. This puts it on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.6, which indicates that its shares could move significantly higher over the medium term. And with ARM forecast to increase dividends by 37% over the next two years, it could become a more appealing income play in the long run too.
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