LONDON -- Recovery plays were in demand this morning as investors piled into three stocks seen as ripe for recovery -- what seem like beaten-down bargains, in short, with more apparent upside than downside.
First up: Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L ) , which was the third-most popular buy among the retail clients of stockbroker TD Direct Investing between the market's opening and noon. Up more than 50% this year on the back of a persistent trickle of good news from -- and about -- the beleaguered bank, Lloyds has surprisingly become one of the market's best-performing shares this year.
After the torrents of bad news, of course, it's important to keep a sense of proportion: Lloyds last paid a dividend in 2008 and is still loss-making. But with fear of bad debt looking too pessimistic and cost reductions and growth strategies delivering the goods, it's easy to see that Lloyds' worst days are probably behind it. The shares are priced at 39 pence, and investors may even see a dividend next year.
Next up: Volex (LSE: VLX.L ) , a popular and well-followed manufacturer of cables for electronics manufacturers. It's a company that I've looked at for my own portfolio, but I've always concluded that the price was too high. No longer: On the back of a shock profits warning, the shares plunged 30% this morning.
Bargain hunters promptly piled in, making the company the eighth-most popular purchase by TD Direct Investing's individual clients between the market's opening and noon. On a forecast price-to-earnings ratio of just 7.5 and a PEG of 0.5 -- well into classic Slater territory -- it's not difficult to see what they liked.
Also popular this morning were shares in another profit-warning victim: upmarket fashion name Burberry (LSE: BRBY.L ) , which was the ninth-most popular purchase by TD Direct Investing's individual clients between the market's opening and noon after a 20% plunge in its already sagging share price last week.
Again, the impetus was a shock profit warning, in this case that current‑year profits may come in around the lower end of City forecasts.
Falling knife -- or bargain? Many investors will have looked at the company's healthy cash position and strong brand and seen a situation analogous to the January announcement by Tesco (LSE: TSCO.L ) -- a strong business temporarily battling headwinds. For investors who find a P/E of more than 20 too rich and a yield of 1.7% too low, today's price of 1,062 pence has the share underperforming the FTSE 100 by a whopping 40% this year and puts the company on a forward P/E of just 14.
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