Each week, a professional investor tells MoneyWeek where he'd put his money now. This week: Ken Stuzin, manager, US Equity Growth Fund, Brown Advisory.
We look for fundamentally sound American companies with prospects for above-average, sustainable earnings growth. High-quality growth stories within the US market still exist, despite the current volatility and economic pressures. Some are domestically oriented, but the American market also offers plenty of access to firms operating outside its own borders.
Este Lauder (NYSE: EL) is exposed to a number of favourable long-term trends, including the rise of the emerging-market consumer. Skin care and cosmetics are among the strongest growth categories in such markets, particularly in China and Brazil. Moreover, the continuing trend towards premium products prestige beauty as an affordable luxury is helping Este Lauder to increase its market share. In developed markets, growing numbers of working women, and ageing populations, are providing an additional boost.
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Within the resources sector, businesses that combine strong long-term growth drivers with technologically driven, sustainable competitive advantages are hard to find. FMC Technologies Inc (NYSE: FTI), the leading global provider of subsea equipment for oil extraction, is one such stock. Its clients are national and international oil groups who benefit from its technological expertise and global capabilities, especially in difficult, deepwater areas. Given the increasingly complex demands of deepwater development, an equipment maker must be at the forefront of innovation to provide safety, reliability, and greater hydrocarbon recovery over the life of a well for the operator.
Competence in both technology and execution have allowed FMC Technologies to become the leader in the subsea tree' area. A subsea tree is fixed to the wellhead of a completedwell to monitor and control the production of the subsea well. In late March, the company announced a four-year deal with Petrobras for the supply of subsea equipment primarily trees for $1.5bn. This is one of the largest awards ever provided to a subsea equipment manufacturer, which says a lot about FMC Technologies' competitive advantages.
The healthcare industry has been under pressure due to the uncertainties around healthcare reform. However, we have found pockets of opportunity by focusing on companies whose products and services improve patient outcomes and cut healthcare costs. Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG), which we have held in the portfolio for over five years, is the global technology leader in robotic-assisted, minimally-invasive surgery. The company designs, makes and markets the da Vinci Surgical System', which lets surgeons perform very complex procedures, such as heart valve and delicate cancer surgery, through small incisions, using a remote console. This enables 3D visualisation, enabling greater precision. The benefits for both hospital and patient are numerous, including shorter recovery times and therefore less time spent in hospital, and far more accurate surgery resulting in less risk of bleeding.
The company has recently placed the first of its systems in Japan, which is the third-largest healthcare market, behind America and Europe. There are also good long-term growth opportunities for the system as it gains traction in a broader range of general surgical procedures.
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