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Is this my once-in-a-decade chance to buy these 2 beaten-down UK shares before they rocket?

Man writing 'now' having crossed out 'later', 'tomorrow' and 'next week'
Image source: Getty Images

I spend much of my time looking for UK shares that have had a rough patch but look ripe for a recovery. The following two FTSE 100 stocks have struggled for years but this may offer me a once-in-a-decade opportunity to buy while they’re cheap.

I held insurer Prudential (LSE: PRU) a decade or so ago, and made good money from it. I can’t remember why I sold but I’m glad I did. The Prudential share price has crashed 39.54% over the last year. Over five years, it’s down 43.51%. Yet its volatility has handed me an opportunity to dive back in.

The insurer is a play on the emerging middle-class in Asia and Africa, who need to buy their own pensions and protection, rather than rely on the state. Prudential was supposed to clean up by selling to this huge and growing market.

It’s certainly cheap

Like much to do with emerging markets, the hype has failed to live up to reality. Today, Prudential looks cheap trading at 9.77 times earnings. Yet it’s a pretty poor income stock, yielding barely half the FTSE 100 average at 1.97%. I remember that the yield was low when I held it too.


Pru’s new business profits for the nine months to 30 September did grow an apparently impressive 37% to $2.14bn, but that was actually a drop from H1 growth of 39%.

The struggling Chinese economy is the real issue here. Yet as JP Morgan recently pointed out, as far as the Pru is concerned, the fear outweighs the fundamentals. I’m tempted but the stock has done so poorly for so long that I’ll watch rather than buy. That low yield doesn’t help either.

Better income play?

The commercial property sector has taken a beating, just look at British Land (LSE: BLND). Its shares are down 40.39% over five years and 18.8% over one.

It’s not quite as cheap as Prudential, trading at 12.29 times earnings, but it does yield a much juicier 6.32%. I’ve been wondering whether to buy it for months. So far, I haven’t missed much.

British Land, like the rest of the real estate investment trust (REIT) sector, has been battered by a storm of unfavourable trends. The group’s retail parks have been hit by online shopping, office blocks are threatened by working from home, while higher interest rates have hit the value of its assets.

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Yet British Land has some ballast, with occupancy rates of 96.2%, an average unexpired lease term of five years, and £472m in annual rental income at a yield of 6%. It also has £1.7bn in undrawn facilities and cash. Profits are growing but only slowly, edging up 3.4% to £142m in the year to 30 September. Few expect them to rocket suddenly. The dividend per share did rise by a solid 4.8% though.

The commercial sector property sector has seen a flight to quality, which appears to include British Land. Plus it has diversification away from the troubled London office sector. Investors will view it more favourably when interest rates start falling. There are risks, obviously, but also rewards. When I get some investable cash, I’ll buy it ahead of Prudential. I suspect that I’ll have to be patient though.

The post Is this my once-in-a-decade chance to buy these 2 beaten-down UK shares before they rocket? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended British Land Plc and Prudential Plc. 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.

Motley Fool UK 2024