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World Cup kicks off: these are the stocks tipped for success

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The much-anticipated World Cup kicks off in Russia today which means the nation will be gripped by football fever. Away from the pitch, here are the stocks tipped for success.

Today is the start of the 2018 World Cup taking place in Russia. And while football fans will be gearing up to support their team, the competition could also be good for investors, with a number of companies set to benefit from the tournament.

A word of warning, however. If you buy a stock because of its short-term potential, you’ll still be left holding it once the World Cup is over.

“It’s important to consider the long-term prospects of a company. Indeed, some of the companies in the frame to benefit are going through a rough patch, and a few weeks of additional sales aren’t going to be enough to trigger a wholescale turnaround,” says Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Investors need to do their homework and factor in the wider issues affecting these businesses.”

Below, Khalaf outlines the potential World Cup winners for your portfolio and any possible red flags investors need to be aware of:

Dixons Carphone

The World Cup will undoubtedly spur a wave of TV purchases and as the last electrical retailer standing on the UK high street, Dixons Carphone can expect to pick up some additional sales.

However, the company recently posted a profit warning, and expects a further contraction in the UK electricals market in the coming year. But the company has strong cash flows and low levels of debt which support an attractive dividend yield of around 6%. Investors in this stock need a high risk tolerance and a willingness to accept things may get worse before they get better.


The World Cup final in 2014 drew a TV audience of 20.6 million in the UK. ITV played second fiddle to the BBC in terms of its viewers but 3.9 million sets of eyeballs glued to the channel still gave it a significant platform to sell advertising.

This year the combination of the World Cup and Love Island looks set to deliver a sizzling summer for ITV. Longer term the company is becoming more involved in content creation, making and selling shows like The Voice and Hell’s Kitchen.

But the shares are trading on a relatively low valuation and offering a dividend yield in excess of 5%, because like many UK-centric stocks ITV’s card has been marked down by Brexit-induced worries over the UK economy.

This makes it an interesting proposition for contrarian investors. With a market cap just shy of £7bn, at some point ITV may look like an attractive bolt-on for one of the big global media companies.


Bookies like GVC, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, and Paddy Power Betfair will be gearing up for a slice of the action, though activity levels will be somewhat tied to the fortunes of the England team.

A strong showing from England will keep interest and hopes high, and the further the national team progresses, the more punters are likely to bet with their hearts rather than their heads. The sector has enjoyed highs and lows of late, as a UK government crackdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals has been offset by a US Supreme Court ruling which promises to open up the US sports betting market.

GVC is set to be promoted to the FTSE 100 just as the World Cup kicks off, and with the US underground sports betting market estimated to be around $150bn a year, it’s easy to see why recent share price performance has been strong.

Take-away tech

The takeaway market is hardly new but both Just Eat and Domino’s have leveraged emerging technology to build dominant market positions.

Just Eat’s share price had a wobble recently when the company announced an extra £50m of investment, partly to invest in delivery services in the UK. Just Eat doesn’t get its hands dirty making food, but it’s increasingly under pressure from competitors like Deliveroo and Uber Eats to offer delivery services, particularly for branded food chains like KFC and Burger King which have no delivery capability themselves.

While conditions may be becoming more challenging, Just Eat is still knocking out impressive growth and is expanding internationally.

Domino’s Pizza plc moved into the online world early on and now almost 80% of orders come in via digital channels. The FTSE 250 company holds the master franchise to operate and franchise Domino’s outlets in a number of European countries.

Domino’s dominates the UK pizza sector and can throw more marketing resources behind the brand than any rival can hope to. The group set a new record for store openings last year and looks set to continue opening at pace in the UK and overseas. The company has a capital-lite business model whereby store franchisees put up most of the investment needed by the chain, and that leads to strong cash flows which can support dividend payments.


The pub sector has been under the cosh recently from a combination of a squeezed consumer, the sugar tax on soft drinks, and increasing costs such as the National Living Wage. The World Cup therefore promises some small respite from difficult trading conditions for the likes of Greene King, as football fans pile into pubs to support their team.

Once the football frenzy dies down though, the harsh reality of life operating pub, restaurant and hotel chains is likely to reassert itself. Greene King has a sterling track record when it comes to taking costs out of the business, and an impressive history of dividend growth. However, sector-wide headwinds and a substantial debt pile are reasons for caution.

Sports Direct

While boosting tourist revenues in Russia, the World Cup may also help Sports Direct benefit. During the 2010 World Cup, Sports Direct posted its strongest trading day on record, as England faced the USA in the group stages, and customers flocked to buy football-related sportswear.

However, the company noted disappointing performance in 2014, off the back of the poor campaign from the English national side.

Sports Direct has been relatively quiet of late, which is no bad thing given the controversies it has become embroiled in over the last few years. However, a large stake in the ailing retailer Debenhams has been far from rewarding, and a string of other ‘strategic investments’ don’t appear to be part of a particularly coherent plan.

Unpredictable founder Mike Ashley owns over 60% of the company and is CEO, so very much calls the shots.