These 3 penny shares look dirt cheap. Should I buy?

Penny shares have the potential to deliver great returns for risk-tolerant investors. Paul Summers runs the rule over three temptingly priced minnows.

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British Pennies on a Pound Note

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Penny shares, by their very nature, look temptingly priced. It’s easy to imagine a stock multiplying in value over a short period of time if it can be snapped up for mere pocket change. Even so, I think it pays to be extra cautious when hunting for winners. Here are three companies that, based on traditional investing metrics, look good value to me. But are they really?

Renold 

I can currently buy shares in industrial chain supplier Renold (LSE: RNO) for just nine times earnings. That already looks a potential bargain given that the company’s customers are nicely diversified by sector and geography. However, this minnow also has a PEG (price/earnings-to-growth) ratio of 0.5. As a rule of thumb, anything at or below 1.0 tends to imply value based on that firm’s prospects. 

Recent results go some way to supporting this. Earlier this month, the company announced that it was continuing to see a recovery in revenues and orders following the pandemic. The latter rose 61.3% to almost £80m over the four months to the end of July. As such, RNO now predicts it will beat market expectations for full-year adjusted operating profit. 

This is not to say that an investment in this penny share is risk-free. The “much-lengthened supply chains” and “considerable raw material and transport cost inflation” mentioned in the last update could get worse before they get better. Even so, I reckon Renold is a cautious buy for my portfolio today.

Severfield

Severfield (LSE: SFR) produces about 300,000 tonnes of fabricated steelwork a year from its five UK sites and factory in India. This is eventually used in the construction of landmark buildings, stadiums, warehouses, hospitals and universities. London’s Shard and Wimbledon’s No.1 Court are examples. 

Right now, I can buy the shares for 11 times earnings. That compares favourably to valuations both within its industry and the market as a whole. The company also has a PEG ratio of just under 1.0. 

Then again, it’s worth me bearing in mind that demand for Severfield’s steel will clearly be linked to the overall health of the UK economy. It’s also worth noting that this has been a penny share for over nine years now. As such, I doubt this stock will fly anytime soon.

Still, it does offer a secure and decent dividend yield (3.7%). So, as a way of balancing out my more racy growth plays, Severfield appeals to me. 

Gem Diamonds

Diamond explorer and producer Gem Diamonds (LSE: GEMD) is a final penny share that, using traditional valuation measures, looks dirt cheap. It has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of less than six for the current year. Other things I like are the net cash position and 3.8% dividend yield.

Then again, this low valuation isn’t a complete surprise. After all, any company in the mining sector has the potential to be highly volatile in price due to the cost and difficulty of extracting whatever metal or mineral it’s focused on. This is potentially compounded by where in the world drilling is taking place.

To be fair, GEMD digs in Botswana and Lesotho, which are considered to be generally safe. However, other risks include the growing popularity of synthetic diamonds among younger buyers.

So, while I like some of what I see here, I’m content to leave Gem Diamonds to those with stronger stomachs.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

Paul Summers 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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