The FTSE 100 has torn higher in 2023. And on Friday it achieved what experts had been predicting for weeks, closing at record levels.
Helped by a weaker pound, London’s blue-chip index finished the week at 7,901.8 points. It has now risen 6% since the New Year.
I’m looking to add some top FTSE index shares to my own portfolio soon. Here are two on my shopping list.
Food and household goods producer Unilever (LSE:ULVR) is an ultimate ‘peace of mind’ stock, in my opinion. This is why it’s a prominent holding in my own shares portfolio.
Demand for its goods can fall when consumer spending comes under pressure. But the strength of heavyweight brands like Dove soap, Magnum ice cream and Hellmann’s mayonnaise helps reduce this threat.
In fact they command such strong customer loyalty that the firm’s able to raise prices at all points of the economic cycle without suffering plummeting volumes. Latest financials showed underlying sales rose 10.6% during the third quarter even as the cost-of-living crisis dragged on.
Price growth was as much as 12.5% between July and December. Yet volumes dipped just 1.6% year on year.
As a shareholder I’m also excited by the appointment of Hein Schumacher as new chief executive. This is because of his extensive experience in emerging markets.
He previously led Heinz’s operations in China and then the broader Asia Pacific territory, before leaving to join FriendlandCampina where he worked as chief financial officer and then chief executive.
Schumacher — who will take the reins on 1 July — could take sales in these white-hot growth markets to the next level.
Associated British Foods
Value retail is an exciting sector for UK share investors in 2023. And I’m considering boosting my exposure to this fast-growing segment by buying shares in Associated British Foods (LSE:ABF).
Consumers are becoming savvier with their cash. This has turned fast-fashion businesses like ABF’s Primark into clothing industry giants. And if recent trading is anything to go by low-cost retailers could be among the best stocks to buy as shopping budgets remain strained.
Like-for-like sales at Primark rose 11% in the 16 weeks to 7 January, latest financials showed. Cash-strapped customers were switching down to buy cheaper alternatives and the likes of Primark were reaping the rewards.
I’m confident that ABF’s budget retail division will remain an impressive revenues generator. It opened 10 new stores in the period to 7 January and plans to cut the ribbon on another 17 across the US and Europe this year. It’s also continuing to develop its online channel to capitalise on the digital boom, even though it’s not actually operating a webstore.
High product costs could hit profits hard in 2023. It has vowed to keep its prices locked until the autumn in a move that might hammer margins. But I’d still buy the FTSE 100 share for its exceptional long-term potential.
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