Blue chip and small cap stocks lead the list of expected market performers for the coming year

Some undervalued "blue chip" companies and a selection of small cap stocks dominate our broker picks for the year ahead.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gets the tick from four firms -- Forsyth Barr; Hamilton Hindin Greene; First NZ Capital; JBWere -- making it the most popular choice in an unusually diverse field.

READ MORE:Forsyth Barr knew how to pick 'em

Despite being perennial favourite the stock underperformed in 2015, but there appears to be a strong view that it now represents good value.


"[F&P] has come back significantly from all time share price highs, having reached a mid-year high of $10.90," says Hamilton Hindin Greene's James Smalley.

"We believe this has been on the back of concerns regarding litigation with competitors and a potential negative impact on their sales into the US. We see some headwinds due to production facilities being based in Mexico, and the incoming Trump administration signalling an increase in protectionist policies."

But, he says, the sell-off is an opportunity, given the short-term nature of the issues, to buy in to a quality business.

Rickey Ward, of JBwere agrees.

"F&P Healthcare is a genuine growth company with a track of record delivering strong earnings improvement from offshore avenues.

"We do not see this changing, with earnings growth approaching 17 per cent this coming calendar year," he says.

"Potential taxation concerns around Mexican manufacturing following President-elect Trump's success have been exaggerated."

Another mature company, seen as undervalued given it retains strong growth potential, is transport and logistics group Mainfreight.


It is picked by three brokers: Craigs Investment Partners; Hobson Wealth Management and JBWere.

"It's is a well-managed business with global growth options. Leveraged to robust economic growth," says Craigs Investment Partners head of research Mark Lister.

"Mainfreight should be well-insulated from increasing interest rates and has a very strong market position in New Zealand, which should continue to benefit from strong local growth, but it also offers some international exposure given is growing operation in Europe, the US and Asia."

JBWere's Ward notes: "Trading on 20 times earnings means they might appear expensive, but good companies tend to, and MFT is a good company."

From there several stocks feature twice in the 2017 picks.

Contact Energy also merits three picks, from JBWere, Craigs and First NZ.

"Contact has lagged its peers in recent years, so it looks like the value play in the sector," says Lister. "It has the potential to increase its dividend payout, and the retail strategy could bear fruit in 2017.

We also like the idea of hedging our bets a little, by including one yield stock.

"While rising interest rates could be a headwind for companies in the utilities sector generally, we see a number of company-specific reasons why Contact could still deliver reasonable returns.

"We also like the idea of hedging our bets a little, by including one yield stock."

Craigs and Hobson both pick Restaurant Brands, very much with an eye on its growth potential following a major investment in Hawaii.

Restaurant Brands has offered US$105 million ($151m) to buy Pacific Island Restaurants, the largest fast-food operator in Hawaii and the sole Taco Bell and Pizza Hut franchisee in Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan.

"Restaurant Brands has a solid track record, capable management and offers stable earnings," says Lister. "The core New Zealand KFC franchise will see free cash flow steadily increase in the coming years, enabling the company to invest in growth areas like KFC Australia and Carl's Jr."

Another other stock picked by two brokers was dairy company Synlait; picked by MSL very much in growth mode and more indicative of the smaller cap stocks in the game this year.

The company has a market cap of $100m and won best growth strategy at the Deloitte Top 200 awards. It has invested heavily in the past and is well positioned to cash in on China's demand for infant formula.

The Fonterra Shareholders fund is a favourite of Craigs and JBWere.

"We continue to see underlying operational improvement in FSF. A change in compositional mix, with a management team committed to addressing inefficiency, has seen tighter controls on costs and capital expenditure, leading to margin expansion," says Ward.

Lister notes that rising dairy prices represent a headwind in some respects "however, the business transformation is well underway and recent operating results have been impressive, the company is reducing its cost base and improving efficiency, while the period of heavy investment has come to an end.

"We believe these factors are yet to be reflected in the share price, which offers attractive value," he says.

Beyond these four the brokers have cast the net wide.

Other stocks that fit the mould of "blue chips on sale" might include Auckland International Airport , picked by MSL Capital Management; Tourism Holdings and Infratil picked by Forsyth Barr; Contact Energy picked by Craigs and JBWere.

Hamilton Hindin Green has a number of similarly high quality NZ companies that look like good value at the moment, says Smalley.

It also included Chorus, Genesis Energy and Ryman Healthcare with Opus international as its wild card.

"It's about buying quality businesses when they are on sale," Smalley says.

Education group Evolve rounds out the stocks to receive multiple picks.

Ward says his team see Evolve as well placed to benefit from further government moves to support mothers in the workforce and notes the trend has similarities to the retirement sector several years ago.

"Acquisitions, developments and cost-out initiatives will see strong near-term earnings growth from a roll up growth opportunity," he says.

Beyond these companies there are plenty of small cap stocks and less familiar names in the mix this year.

MSL picks Green Cross Health, a small player it has chosen for a second year in a row, in what managing director Andrew McDouall describes as "a hot sector benefiting from an aging population, regulation and industry structure changes."

Vulcan Capital is picking natural healthcare products company Promisia Integrative as well as cancer diagnostics company Pacific Edge and NZ Salmon.