I’m looking for the best UK stocks to buy for my shares portfolio. Here are two top firms I think could thrive in 2022.
NHS waiting lists are soaring as hospitals struggle with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Latest data showed almost 6m patients awaiting non-urgent hospital care in England in October. This was up more than 140,000 from September’s prior record. The number threatens to worsen considerably in 2022 as the Omicron variant is tipped to push up hospital admissions.
This bodes well for providers of private healthcare services like Spire Healthcare Group (LSE: SPI). A July report from charity Engage Britain showed that 21% of Britons have turned to private care recently for treatment. That compares with 13% a decade ago.
Massive underinvestment in the NHS means the number could continue growing too, irrespective of the future impact of Covid-19.
Turnover at Spire soared to £558.2m in the first half of 2021. This was up 38.9% year-on-year and 13.5% better than sales in the first six months of 2019. The UK healthcare share has 39 hospitals and eight clinics and is building its portfolio to exploit these favourable market conditions. More recently, it snapped up Sheffield’s Claremont Private Hospital in September.
In great shape
A word of warning, however. Spire currently trades on a high forward P/E ratio around 33 times. This sort of valuation could cause its share price to sink if earnings projections start to look a bit wobbly. Sustained high costs related to Covid-19, for example, could cause this, as could fresh postponements of elective surgeries if coronavirus infections explode.
Still, as a long-term investor, this danger wouldn’t stop me from investing in Spire today. I expect demand for its services to rise over the coming decade, at least as pressure on the NHS rises.
Another top stock for 2022
Clipper Logistics (LSE: CLG) is another UK share I’m tipping to have a strong 2022. Shoppers are deserting the high street again, even without the introduction of fresh Covid-19 restrictions on retail.
According to Springboard, footfall across UK retail destinations dropped 1.7% week-on-week in the seven days to December 11. That’s even though Plan B rules were yet to come in to effect. It’s possible that non-essential physical retail could take a proper battering if Omicron and tougher pandemic rules come into effect.
Clipper provides logistics services to major retailers and fast-moving consumer goods giants like ASOS, L’Oréal and Morrisons. So it stands to thrive again if concerned shoppers desert the high street for the internet.
Regardless, I’m tipping profits here to rise strongly as e-commerce traffic should still grow strongly, even if the coronavirus crisis doesn’t hit new highs. It’s why I already own Clipper in my Stocks and Shares ISA and I am thinking of increasing my holdings. City analysts think earnings here will rise 25% and 4% in the financial years to April 2022 and 2023 respectively.
I’d buy it despite the growing threat to broader consumer spending levels as the British economy cools.
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Royston Wild owns Clipper Logistics. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ASOS, Clipper Logistics, and Morrisons. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.