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2 dirt-cheap UK shares to buy

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As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, I’ve been looking for UK shares to buy for my portfolio. I’ve been focusing on dirt-cheap shares, as I think these will benefit from the double tailwind of both growth and improved market sentiment.

And as market sentiment improves, I believe investors may reevaluate their prospects and send valuations higher. With that in mind, here are two dirt-cheap UK shares I’d buy today. 

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UK shares to buy

The first company on my list is the specialist property real estate investment trust (REIT) Capital & Regional (LSE: CAL). This organisation owns shopping centres around the UK. 

The pandemic has decimated this sector, and Capital hasn’t been able to escape the pain. For its 2020 financial year, the company reported a loss of £200m, nearly 2.5 times its current market capitalisation. 

Property writedowns, as well as lower levels of rent collection, have all hurt the group. However, things are starting to look up. Occupancy across the company’s portfolio was nearly 90% at the end of May.

Moreover, 99% of leased units were open and trading across the group’s seven shopping centres towards the end of June. On top of this, the firm has agreed 38 new lettings and renewals this year. 

These are all positive developments. Still, this business isn’t out of the woods yet. There’s been a structural shift over the past 24 months away from brick-and-mortar stores towards online retail. This is likely to have a lasting impact on the group’s property portfolio. Revenues may never recover to pre-pandemic levels. 

Nevertheless, right now, the stock is selling at a price-to-book (P/B) value of around 0.5. I think this looks dirt-cheap. So, while the stock might have its risks, I’d buy the firm as part of my basket of UK shares. 

Stormy waters

Another company I’d buy for my portfolio of dirt-cheap UK shares is John Wood (LSE: WG). This oil and gas services business has been battered by volatile oil prices recently. Its subsidiary, Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited, has also had to deal with an investigation from the UK Serious Fraud Office. This investigation recently ended with a £103m deferred prosecution agreement. 

With the investigation out of the way, and the outlook for the oil and gas industry looking up, John Wood can now focus on growth. 

And as the group moves on, investors can snap up the share for a bargain price. The stock is selling at a P/B value of 0.5 and a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 10.2. 

I’d buy the stock for my portfolio of UK shares based on these metrics. However, I should reiterate that this firm’s outlook is tied to that of the oil and gas sector. This sector can be highly cyclical, and so can John Wood’s earnings. As such, the company’s growth is far from guaranteed. 

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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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