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Can Ampol ride out the impact of economic shocks?

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Geopolitical shockwaves and economic uncertainty are causing turmoil this year. Some shares are better able to absorb this kind of disruption than others - but could Ampol (ASX:ALD) be one of them?

To understand why different shares respond to chaos in different ways, it pays to look at their strengths...

In bull markets, investors tend to gravitate to more speculative growth stocks as a means of achieving the best returns. But these stocks can collapse early in a crisis.

By contrast, high quality shares often get overlooked in bull markets. But it's these that are often better at keeping their momentum and recovering quickest from periods of volatility.

Shares in Ampol are currently trading at A$34.3 but a question in the minds of investors is whether economic aftershocks from Covid might affect it in the future.

The answer is that there are some positive signs. Ampol appears to score well against some important financial and technical measures and has at least some exposure to two influential drivers of investment returns: high quality and strong momentum.

So why are these two factors important and where are the clues hidden?

GET MORE DATA-DRIVEN INSIGHTS INTO ASX:ALD »

High quality

When it comes to stock analysis, company quality tends to be revealed in high profitability and strong industry-leading margins. These kinds of firms are stable, growing and often have accelerating sales and earnings. They also have strong and improving financial histories with no obvious signs of accountancy or bankruptcy risk.

One of the quality metrics for Ampol is its 5-year Return on Capital Employed, which is 11.4%. Long-term, double-digit ROCEs can be a hallmark of companies with the power to grow very profitably.

Strong momentum

Positive momentum trends show up in share prices and earnings growth. You can find the clues in stocks that are trading close to their 52 week high prices and outperforming the market. They’ll often be beating broker estimates and getting forecast upgrades and recommendation changes.

There are signs of this at Ampol, where the share price has seen a 33.7% return relative to the market over the past 12 months. Market volatility and economic uncertainty can be a major drag on momentum, but previously strong stocks can be quick to recover when confidence returns.

In summary, a combination of high quality and momentum can be clues in the search for shares with the potential to deliver solid investment profits over many years.

In good times, these shares can become expensive to buy. But in volatile markets, there may be chances to buy them at cheaper prices.

What does this mean for potential investors?

Finding good quality stocks with strong momentum behind them is a strategy used by some of the world's most successful investors. But be warned: these factors don't guarantee future returns and we've identified some areas of concern with Ampol that you can find out about here.

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