3 fast-growing businesses I’d buy today

Readers take note. Just because a business is big, doesn’t mean it can’t continue growing. Despite many of the headlines lately claiming that Australia’s biggest shares are in a low or no growth environment, many shares in the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) index will go on to be successful.

The following are three of my favourite billion-dollar businesses.

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT)

This four-billion dollar travel agency has virtually zero debt, pays a 4%, fully-franked dividend, and has more than $1 billion dollars in cash, of which $429 million belongs to the company. Although the company has a strong market position in Australia, it is also expanding overseas in a variety of markets, including continental Europe, south-east Asia, the US, and potentially China. As its branch networks grow, so too will its range of products and the opportunity for creating package holiday deals.

Later this year, Flight Centre will roll out its own digital app Key To The World, which will give customers a one-stop shop access to itineraries, prepaid currency cards, travel insurance, and a travel phone. With an outstanding balance sheet and capable, well-aligned management, Flight Centre is a strong buy today.

G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM)

The first thing many investors notice about the $1.5 billion G8 Education is its whopping 6.4%, fully franked, quarterly dividend – great for income investors. G8’s modus operandi is taking advantage of a fragmented market and what it sees as favourable industry dynamics to gobble up new childcare centres and convert them to the G8 banner. Thanks to favourable access to finance and a lot of acquisitions, G8 has grown its share price at 60% per annum over the past five years.

Going forward, growth and the pace of acquisitions looks to have slowed, although the company is still planning $50-$150 million worth of centre acquisitions this year. G8 uses improvements to its centres as well as well-trained staff to improve occupancy, and like-for-like Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) grew 11% in 2015. It doesn’t take much of this kind of growth to justify today’s price tag, and G8 looks like a decent investment today.

XERO FPO NZX (ASX: XRO), a $2.2 billion New Zealand business, is known predominantly for its beautiful accounting software. Unprofitable, it is the odd man out alongside G8 and Flight Centre, yet the economics of its business make it very attractive. Its cloud accounting software can simplify almost every aspect of book-keeping, and its reach is expanding into a variety of parallel areas thanks to partnerships with a number of businesses.

Already the market leader in the ANZ region, Xero is expanding globally and reporting rapid growth in the US and UK, as well as elsewhere in the world. While the company is reinvesting all of its sales into further expansion, its customer life is estimated to be six years. This means that while the company only has to pay to acquire a customer once, it will earn money from that customer for much longer. A higher risk investment, Xero nevertheless looks very attractive today.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares of Flight Centre Travel Group Limited, G8 Education Limited, and Xero. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Xero. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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