This morning, investors sensed bargains at Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY), Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) and Vodafone (LSE: VOD).
Back in August, bullish management at infrastructure maintenance and engineering firm Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY) raised the company's half-year dividend by 6% to 5.6p per share, citing "another set of solid results... and our confidence that we are well placed to take full advantage of the global growth in infrastructure markets".
Oops. What a difference three months makes: today, the share was the single-most popular 'buy' by the private clients of stockbroker TD Direct Investing between the market's opening and 12 noon.
How come? A markedly different reading of the runes, in short, speaking of "market deterioration", "depressed markets" and confessing that "the performance of our UK construction business is weaker than anticipated".
The share price duly headed south, falling by 16% at the time of writing. That said, given the relatively minor projected impact on actual profitability, and the cost-cutting already in place, there's every prospect that the dividend will be maintained, placing the business on a fairly attractive 5% forecast yield. Throw in a prospective price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 8, and Balfour Beatty -- already cheap -- starts to look distinctly attractive.
Also attractive, and also finding favour with investors, was Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) (NYSE: LYG.US), the second-most popular 'buy' by the broker's retail clients between the market's opening and 12 noon.
The reason? A broker upgrade from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, rating the share a 'market outperform', and setting a target price of 60p -- some 36% higher than today's beaten-down price. And the underlying logic is clear: as 2013 gets ever closer, this former high-yield favourite is also getting ever closer to the point where it can finally pay a dividend, the first since 2008.
Third up: Vodafone (LSE: VOD) (NASDAQ: VOD.US), which continues to offer the alluring combination of an eye-watering yield of over 7%, and a trading range of around its 52-week low. Rarely out of TD Direct Investing's daily lists in recent times, today the share was the ninth-most popular 'buy' by the broker's private clients.
Granted, there's more bad news around the share than there has been for some time: reports this week, for instance, highlight how consumers in the eurozone's troubled economies of Italy and Spain are ditching the Vodafone phones and contracts in favour of cheaper offerings elsewhere. Or just ditching them, full stop.
But if you don't buy shares when they're cheap, when do you buy them? Still very much one of the very largest businesses in the FTSE 100 (UKX), Vodafone is no more immune to temporary economic vicissitudes than any other business.
Finally, what are super-investors Neil Woodford and Warren Buffett buying today? We can't tell you that, but we can tell you the names of the shares that they've been buying in the recent past -- and why they've been buying them.
So download this free report to discover the shares that interest Neil Woodford right now, and this free report to learn the name of the British share that Warren Buffett has been buying recently. There's no obligation, and they can be in your inbox in seconds.
Are you looking to profit as a long-term investor? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- while it's still free and available.
Further investment opportunities:
> Malcolm holds shares in Lloyds, but has no disclosable interest in any other of the shares listed. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Vodafone.
Disclaimer: This TD Direct Investing list of Top Ten Buys should not be taken as a recommendation to buy any particular stock, and is simply an indication of the general buying trends amongst TD Direct Investing customers during the period stated.