11 ASX shares that make Abrdn's World Cup team

Soccer's biggest event has now started. One fund manager couldn't help picking his starting team for a glory-bound portfolio.

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The soccer World Cup is under way, with 32 national teams now camped in the Middle East to compete for glory.

While the choice of host, Qatar, has been controversial due to the country's human rights record, billions of soccer fans will still tune in to barrack for their flag. The sport is a matter of life and death in many parts of the world.

As Australia prepares for its first game kicking off early Wednesday morning, Abrdn investment manager and soccer enthusiast Shawn Lee couldn't help himself.

He has picked his own team of 11 ASX shares that would lead his portfolio to a World Cup win:


The safe pair of defensive hands at the back for Lee is Auckland International Airport Limited (ASX: AIA).

"We need a good communicator with quick reflexes guarding our goal," Lee said on the Abrdn blog.

"Auckland Airport's prompt response to the COVID crisis was impressive. It moved swiftly to rein in its cost base, pausing large capital projects and preemptively raising emergency capital."

With the world now well into the post-pandemic era, he feels like Auckland Airport can "fend off the ups and down of economic cycles" and offers its investors a monopoly asset.

Left and right backs

According to Lee, left back Bapcor Ltd (ASX: BAP) is "one of the most compelling defensive players".

"Even though Bapcor has had a recent change of coach, new chief executive Noel Meehan has progressively won over the dressing room to restore our team's stability," he said.

"Although many things may not be 'better than before', we think Bapcor has a long playing career ahead and, allied to reasonable valuation, demands a place in our starting line-up."

The right back position will be taken by real estate fund Centuria Capital Group (ASX: CNI).

"We wanted a versatile full-back that's quick on its feet, with good anticipation and composure," said Lee.

"Centuria fits the bill nicely, with its nimbleness evident as it pivots its core unlisted funds business."

He admitted office assets were under a cloud in the post-COVID era, but the company has other fires burning.

"Centuria continues to seek out growth by pivoting its product towards other property sub-sectors more in vogue – including healthcare, industrial property and agriculture investments."

Centre backs

Lee's middle defenders are Infratil Ltd (ASX: IFT) and Ridley Corporation Ltd (ASX: RIC).

"We want our centre backs to provide as much pitch coverage as possible, and Infratil's portfolio of other core investments span a range of sectors such as data centres, telecommunications, retirement living and electricity generation," he said. 

"We think Infratil is staying one step ahead of a fast-evolving game – evident through its investment in solar/wind farm developer and operator Long Road Energy."

Animal feed producer Ridley is on the radar of many experts at the moment.

"Ridley's defensive psyche is finely tuned, with the majority of customer contracts allowing it to pass through inflationary costs, while its mix of divisional exposures should also provide some protection against adverse weather," said Lee.

"After shedding excess, some might say Ridley has a small frame. But this player still packs a punch."


Left, centre and right midfielders are IPH Ltd (ASX: IPH), AUB Group Ltd (ASX: AUB) and Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX: MND), respectively.

"Like any good midfielder, IPH is in excellent condition and is no stranger to playing the endurance game, especially given that the patent lifecycle and corresponding workflow can span 20 years or more," said Lee.

"We drafted AUB in to play a crucial role in our team as we believe its traditional defensive strengths are being nicely complemented by an improving offensive game."

Monadelphous sounds like a biotech, but it's actually a Perth-based mining services provider.

"It has an exemplary operating track record, differentiating it from what is otherwise a peer group of service providers that typically experience booms and busts," Lee said.

"Midfield is often referred to as the engine room of the team, and the WA resources engine is most definitely humming!"


The wingers for Lee would be IDP Education Ltd (ASX: IEL) and Hub24 Ltd (ASX: HUB).

"Wingers need good ball control to get in behind opposition defences and set up attempts on goal. We believe IDP has excellent skills and a few tricks in its locker," he said.

"In between digitising the business through computer-based IELTS testing, the acquisition of online course database provider Hotcourses, the launch of marketplace platforms such as IDP live, the shrewd purchase of IELTS India and thriving amid the COVID crisis that otherwise devastated the international student industry, we think the business has executed almost flawlessly and consistently made fools of opposing defences."

Hub24 has "had more shots at goal than many of its peers".

"Speed is a key attribute of good wingers, and this is where Hub24 does not disappoint," said Lee. 

"Platform funds under administration have grown at breakneck speed since the business was established in 2007, in part due to tailwinds from the move towards independent financial advice, but also as a result of innovative platform technology and a superior customer experience."

Finally, the big goal scorer in the centre forward position is Pro Medicus Limited (ASX: PME).

"We can't fault Pro Medicus's hot scoring streak, announcing multiple record-sized cloud-based contract wins, together with strong renewal momentum on improved pricing and contractual terms," said Lee.

"Not only do we anticipate conversion of the contract pipeline, we think the business has enhanced its scalability through cloud-based deployment, which will grow its addressable market meaningfully and allow it to penetrate a smaller customer base previously deemed to be less economic."

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Hub24 Ltd, Idp Education Pty Ltd, and Pro Medicus Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended IPH Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Hub24 Ltd and Pro Medicus Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Austbrokers Holdings Limited, Bapcor, and IPH Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

More on Investing Strategies

Man holding a calculator with Australian dollar notes, symbolising dividends.
Bank Shares

Here's the CBA dividend forecast through to 2026

Where next for this banking giant's dividends?

Read more »

A little girl holds on to her piggy bank, giving it a really big hug.
Dividend Investing

3 of the safest ASX 200 dividend shares in Australia right now

I think these 3 shares pay the safest income you can find on the ASX

Read more »

Happy man working on his laptop.
Growth Shares

1 ASX growth stock down 40% to buy right now

Goldman Sachs thinks this beaten down stock could be great value.

Read more »

A woman with black afro hair and wearing a white t-shirt shrugs and purses her lips
Cheap Shares

Are these top ASX shares dirt cheap and must-buys right now?

Is the market undervaluing these and giving you a buying opportunity?

Read more »

A happy older couple relax in a hammock together as they think about enjoying life with a passive income stream.
Investing Strategies

I'd aim to turn a $20,000 savings account into $25,400 of passive income

It doesn't matter if you don't have a pile of cash to start investing. The important thing is to start.

Read more »

A man closesly watch a clock, indicating a delay or timing issue on an ASX share price movement
Dividend Investing

25 ASX 200 shares with ex-dividend dates next week

There are 25 ASX 200 shares scheduled to go 'ex-div' next week.

Read more »

man doing stocktake at supermarket
Dividend Investing

Guess which ASX 200 stock is predicted to pay an 8% dividend yield in 2025

It could be rewarding to own this business.

Read more »

A woman has a thoughtful look on her face as she studies a fan of Australian 20 dollar bills she is holding on one hand while he rest her other hand on her chin in thought.
Dividend Investing

Want big income? Buy these high-yield ASX dividend shares

Analysts think these income options are in the buy zone right now.

Read more »