Down 45%, are these UK shares no-brainer bargains right now? 

Several top UK shares are down significantly and two companies on my list look like possible attractive buys right now. Here’s what I’m doing.

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With the global economy in turmoil, UK shares that were pandemic darlings are down significantly in 2022. But a lot of these companies are robust businesses operating in exciting sectors. Here, I’m looking at two such pandemic performers that seem to me to be primed for growth for the next market recovery. I’m searching for ‘future-proof’ UK shares available at a discount and these two companies look like good picks for my portfolio.  

The future of grocery 

Ocado (LSE:OCDO) was a big pandemic winner. With people restricted indoors, this online grocer’s sales blew up. And while Ocado is still an online grocer, it has slowly transitioned into a tech company that sets up automated warehouses for other big chains. And its designs and workflow systems are backed by over 500 patents. 

The economic slowdown has caused many UK shares to fall from pandemic and post-pandemic highs. And Ocado shares, which rose 160% between February 2020 and February 2021, have fallen 69% since. In 2022 alone, the Ocado share price is down 45%. And there are some solid reasons behind this drop.

Ocado’s operations are very cash-intensive right now. The company has reinvested earnings and borrowed over £4bn since its initial listing. And just this week, it placed a further £575m of shares on the market, which added up to 9.7% of its share capital. Its huge R&D spending means the company has recorded pre-tax losses for two consecutive years.

But I’m still very bullish on this fast-growing UK share. It’s clear to me that automated warehousing is the future of e-commerce. And Ocado’s recent partnerships with grocery giants like Morrisons and Kroger back this up. The board expects steady revenue when warehouses that are still under construction start functioning. And its automation products saw a 301% jump in contracts last year. 

I believe its tech will become immensely valuable in the next five years. Ocado tops my UK shares to buy watchlist but the market is still volatile and I think the current bear run could present a better buying opportunity in the near future.

FTSE 100 darling

Equipment rental company Ashtead Group (LSE:AHT) was a big winner in 2020-21. Its shares jumped over 310% between March 2020 and December 2021. However, so far in 2022 they’re down 45% at 3,400p with a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.8 times. And I think the company is a bargain growth option at this price. 

It’s already the second-largest equipment rental company in North America and the largest in the UK. And being a construction service provider, Ashtead avoids the pitfalls of construction like fluctuating commodity prices and environmental factors delaying deliveries.

The company will have to deal with growing overhead and repair costs and its sizeable £5.8bn net debt. This could eat into future revenue given its high acquisition spending right now. But the business is a strong cash generator, bringing in £1.1bn in 2022. 

This business is on my UK shares buy list because of its steady growth strategy and huge market share in cash-rich regions. Ashtead addresses a very specific problem in the construction industry and I’m bullish on its business model. I’d be tempted to invest in the company once the larger global economic climate shows strong signs of recovery. 

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.

Suraj Radhakrishnan has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Ocado Group. 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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