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2 cheap UK shares I’d buy

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One English pound placed on a graph to represent an economic down turn
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When looking for UK shares to buy, I like to focus on cheap stocks. This is because research shows buying cheap shares can lead to high returns over the long term.

However, this isn’t always guaranteed. As such, the strategy might not be suitable for all investors.

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Still, I’m comfortable with the level of risk and research required to find the right sort of businesses. And with that in mind, here are two cheap UK shares I’d buy for my portfolio today. 

Cheap UK shares

The first company on my list is Reach (LSE: RCH). The publisher, which owns a broad selection of titles, including the Mirror and Daily Express newspapers, is navigating a challenging operating environment. 

Newspaper sales were already sliding before the pandemic and, over the past 12 months, this trend has only accelerated. But Reach hasn’t stood still. The company has been investing heavily in its online operation. As a result, this division is growing rapidly, offsetting some of the declines in the newspaper business. 

According to the company’s latest trading update, in the first four months of 2021, digital revenue grew 35%, while total print revenue was down 10.4%, and circulation eased 7.9%. Thanks to the booming digital business, overall revenues declined just 3.1%.

Reach is targeting further growth. It had 6.2m site registrations at the end of April and wants to take that to 10m by 2022. It’s also slashing costs in an attempt to improve profitability.

Based on current City growth estimates, the stock is trading at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 6.9. Even after taking into account all of the company’s problems, that looks cheap to me

Therefore, I’d buy Reach as part of my basket of cheap UK shares, even though the company is facing a significant challenge from falling print revenues. 

Rising home prices 

As well as Reach, I’d buy challenger bank OSB (LSE: OSB) for my portfolio of cheap UK shares. This company specialises in mortgage lending, particularly buy-to-let mortgage lending.

Thanks to the strong UK housing market, borrower demand has been robust over the past 12 months. According to the company’s latest trading update, underlying net loans and advances were up 3% in the three months to March 31 to £19.6bn. For the year as a whole, City analysts reckon the group will report earnings growth of around 30%.

Based on these projections, the stock is trading at a forward P/E of less than 8. I think this multiple looks cheap.

The company is also committed to paying out 25% of its earnings as a dividend. So, on that basis, the shares could yield 3.8% this year, although that’s just a forecast at this stage. 

The most considerable risk the lender faces is the threat of a housing market slump. This could start with an interest rate hike, which may lead to loan losses at the bank. In this scenario, OSB may have to revisit its dividend plans. In addition, earnings may also come in below expectations, leading to a drop in the share price. 

Still, even after taking these risks into account, I’d buy the lender for my portfolio of cheap UK shares today. 

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Rupert Hargreaves 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.

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