Any notion that Bitcoin was a safe haven have been put to bed by the coronavirus crash. Panicky investors have rushed to sell the crypto-currency rather than buy it. Its price has fallen from more than $10,000 to just over $6,000, punishing starry-eyed traders once again.
That is why I prefer to put my money in a Stocks and Shares ISA. Yes, stock markets have also crashed. But I think this has thrown up a host of bargains, if you are brave enough to buy anything right now (apart from toilet roll). I am tempted by the Galliford Try Holdings (LSE: GFRD) share price, which has fallen 21% today, and Just Group (LSE: JUST), down around 13%.
Galliford Try’s half-year report this morning showed the group posting a £16.6m statutory profit before tax, reversing a loss of £24.7m in the year before. That’s despite a drop of 8.2% in revenues, which fell from £728m to £668m.
Markets were no doubt disappointed by news that attempts to hit a divisional margin target of 2% in 2021 have now been pushed back to 2022. But at least the order book has held steady at £3.2bn, following a series of project wins.
Galliford Try was hit hard by both Brexit and the collapse of fellow construction group Carillion. This forced it to scrap its dividend and launch a £150m rights issue, amid concerns about its balance sheet. However, with the turnaround under way, the share price was picking up steadily, until the coronavirus trauma. Now it has a market cap of just £123m, and trades at a measly valuation of just 1.2 times earnings.
Today’s mixed results have been harshly punished, but that’s how it is when sentiment crashes. This could prove an exciting buy at today’s low, but we live in strange times and you would have to be brave to buy it.
Just the job
Financial services group Just Group looked like a bargain a year ago, when it traded at just 3.5 times earnings. It looks even cheaper given today’s share price mauling, as it now trades at just 3.1 times earnings.
Today’s preliminary results showed IFRS profit before tax of £369m, turning round 2018’s loss of £86m. The turnaround was pinned on an “improved operating result and positive economic variances”. Total revenue climbed from £2.86bn to £3.83bn, despite a 12% fall in gross written premiums to £1.92bn.
Just has also been through a tough time, like Galliford, but for different reasons. It was hit hard by a regulatory clampdown on sales of equity release lifetime mortgages. This was a key product and sparked a £219m regulatory capital cost in the second half of 2019. New business margins have also fallen, as it puts capital discipline above sales, but capital coverage now stands at 141%, and is set to rise further.
Just Group’s stock is another bargain for the brave, with a price-to-book value of just 0.4. These are wild times for investors, but I reckon both firms merit further due diligence, and a place on your watchlist.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. 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.