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James Li
James Li
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3 UK-Based Stocks With Expanding Margins Over the Past 3 Years

Stocks to consider as UK ponders new coronavirus lockdown

September 21, 2020 | About:

In light of new lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus, three U.K.-based stocks that have increased operating margins by at least 2% per year since 2017 are Aon PLC (NYSE:AON), IHS Markit Ltd. (NYSE:INFO) and Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW) according to the Historical Data Screen, a new GuruFocus Premium Plus feature implemented this month.

Dow continues September slump on coronavirus resurgence fears

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 27,147.70, down 509.72 points from last Friday's close of 27,657.42 despite sinking to an intraday low of 26,715.15, down 942.27 from the previous close. Heightened fears of the coronavirus pandemic resurging around the globe sank markets, with broad U.S. indexes down over 4% in the month to date. Likewise, the FTSE 100 closed at 5,804.29, down 3.38% from the previous close of 6,007.05 on fears of escalating cases in the U.K.


According to BBC, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a second national lockdown to decelerate the spread of Covid-19 in the country. U.K. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance warned on Monday that the country could top 50,000 new cases per day if no action takes place to stop the current trend in rising cases, potentially resulting in higher casualties.

Historical Data Screen feature seeks stocks with growing profit margins year over year

As investors continue grappling with coronavirus fears, GuruFocus Premium Plus users can utilize a new historical data screen feature that allows them to view trends in a company's financial data over multiple years at once. For example, one can identify stocks that have grown operating margins over 2% each year since 2017 (close to the beginning of Brexit) using the following steps:

  1. Under the Screener's Profitability Tab, look in the "Operating Margin" section and then click on the "+" icon next to the "Value" row as Figure 1 illustrates.
  2. Figure 2 illustrates the "Operating Margin Historical Data Screen" pop-up window. In the "From" box, the leftmost, click the "Please select" item and then select 2017.
  3. In the "Operating Margin %" box, the third box from the left, select the Grew by (%) option and then enter 2 in the "Value" box, the rightmost box.

Figure 3 illustrates the end result.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


Aon provides insurance and reinsurance solutions to brokerages and human resource departments. GuruFocus ranks the company's profitability 8 out of 10 on several positive investing signs, which include a four-star business predictability rank, a high Piotroski F-score of 8 and an operating margin that is outperforming 82.69% of global competitors.


Gurus with large holdings in Aon include Steven Romick and Andreas Halvorsen.


IHS Markit

IHS Markit provides data and analytics to corporate and sovereign clients across several industries, which include financial markets, transportation and energy. GuruFocus ranks the company's profitability 8 out of 10 on several positive investing signs, which include a 3.5-star business predictability rank, a high Piotroski F-score of 7 and an operating margin that has increased approximately 10.80% per year on average over the past five years and is outperforming over 96% of global competitors.


Gurus with holdings in IHS Markit include Pioneer Investments and Steven Cohen's Point72 Asset Management.


Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson provides corporate risk and insurance brokerage services. GuruFocus ranks the company's profitability 7 out of 10, driven by a high Piotroski F-score of 7 and operating margins that are outperforming approximately 75% of global competitors.


Disclosure: The author has no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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About the author:

James Li
I am an editorial researcher at GuruFocus. I have a Master's in Finance from SMU, and I enjoy writing reports on financial trends and investor portfolios. Follow me on Twitter at @JamesLiGuru!

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