Interest rates look set to stay low throughout this year and the psychological effect this has on consumer spending may boost company revenues that are sensitive to the discretionary spending habits of everyday Australians and other global citizens.
While the International Monetary Fund yesterday cut growth forecasts for Australia, it has raised them for the UK which it now predicts to be the fastest growing advanced economy in 2014, complete with super-low interest rates.
Kitchen appliance maker Breville Group Ltd (ASX: BRG) has performed outstandingly in Australia and North America recently and is now focused on growing its international business in large part through the UK. Other stocks with significant leverage to the UK include Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) and Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT).
Selling for $9.27, Breville is trading at around 22 times forecast earnings and is priced for growth, but looks to have potential.
In a smart move to help sell its products globally it’s hired UK celebrity and chef, Heston Blumenthal, who is set to open a Melbourne restaurant soon. If the near $360-per-head prices at his UK restaurant are anything to go by, it won’t be for bargain hunters, who may prefer an egotistical cash burn at the casinos of the restaurant’s landlord Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN).
Crown has beautiful leverage to the Asian wealth explosion and also plans to develop at home. The charismatic and highly-ambitious boss, James Packer, is developing Sydney’s Barangaroo District into a Syd-Vegas style luxury leisure and entertainment complex. The estimated $6 billion bill for the urban transformation is enough to make diners at Blumenthal’s restaurant wince, although appears good news for construction company Lend Lease Group (ASX: LLC), a business involved in the Barangaroo development that touched multi-year share price highs last week.
Lend Lease also benefits from the low-rate environment and rising property prices and sales. These factors should also drive demand for the services of home-loan provider Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX: MOC).
Mortgage Choice says it writes a home loan every 15 minutes via its network of franchises, and the housing upswing should support growth. Low rates equal increased borrowing across the board, and the company also offers car, business and personal loans.
At $2.64 the share price has dropped around 18% off February highs and looks good trading on a yield of 5.1% and price-earnings of 18 based on analyst consensus forecasts for FY 2014.
Crown and Westfield stand out as solid buys at current prices for global exposure and strengthening discretionary spending among consumers across the world’s major economies. The others are worth a look for those comfortable taking on a little more risk.