I’d buy these cheap UK shares today

Paul Summers picks out two cheap UK shares he’d be willing to snap up as the market’s mood swings continue.

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I doubt I’m the only investor thinking that the last few weeks have been akin to wading through treacle. But on a positive note, it’s worth remembering that times like these can be the lifeblood of long-term Foolish investors looking for cheap UK shares to buy. Accordingly, here are two examples I’d have no issue adding to my portfolio today.

Lockdown beneficiary

In retrospect, the time to pick up stock in online casino and gaming operator 888 Holdings (LSE: 888) was just before Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown. Back then, the share price was around 80p. A couple of months ago, 888 achieved a 52-week high of 494p. 

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Unfortunately, I didn’t act on my own bullish call in 2020, due to the sheer number of attractively-priced options out there during the market crash. Even so, I’d still be prepared to buy now, especially as 888’s valuation has now fallen back below the 300p mark.  

Aside from general market skittishness, some old-fashioned profit-taking is probably behind this selling pressure. Some investors may have taken the 15% reduction in business-to-consumer betting revenue in Q3 as a sign that trading momentum is now slowing. A more likely catalyst, however, is the recent legal shake-up in the Netherlands that requires online betting firms to obtain a licence. In response, 888 has ceased to operate there — a decision that’s expected to hit profit by $10m. 

I’d snap up this cheap UK share

Since this is a temporary measure, I think the fall may be overdone. Shares in 888 now trade at just 14 times forecast FY22 earnings. That looks great value, considering 888’s agreement to buy William Hill’s non-US assets could put a rocket under profits in time. What’s more, the stock comes with a potential 12p per share dividend next year (or 4.1% yield at the current share price).

All this before we’ve even considered the increase in business 888 could see if there’s a fourth national lockdown.

Buy the dip?

Another cheap UK share I’m interested in buying would be commercial and domestic lighting firm Luceco (LSE: LUCE). Despite staging a brief comeback in November, shares in the mid-cap were back to 337p by last Friday. That’s a significant drop from the 52-week high of 513p it hit back in September. 

This fall leaves Luceco’s forecast P/E at a little under 16. This may not look like a screaming bargain initially. However, this number should never be looked at in isolation, especially if the company scores well on quality metrics.

While past performance is definitely no guide to the future, Luceco has long generated high returns on invested capital. It’s this, according to UK top fund managers like Terry Smith, that plays a significant role in great long-term returns. Luceco could therefore prove to be a steal at current levels.

I must emphasise the word could here. There is a chance that recent cost pressures may not peak in early 2022 as the company expects. The fact that less than half of the company is available to buy on the market (i.e. a low ‘free float’) may also mean the share price lurches rather than drifts lower.

Still, I’m not concerned with trying to time the market exactly. What’s more important to me is buying a decent business at a sane price and holding on. I remain bullish on Luceco.

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