Why China-Focused Burberry Group Plc And Prudential Plc Are Bargain Buys

The doom and gloom financial news coming out of China has hit shares of UK companies such as Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY) and Prudential (LSE: PRU) hard over the past year. While short-term-focused City traders may have written-off these two shares on the back of their China exposure, I believe long-term investors have been granted a prime opportunity to invest in two winners at relative bargain prices.

Burberry relies on the Asia Pacific region for a third of revenue, so the slowdown in Chinese growth has understandably knocked its shares back. However, I believe the shares falling by 34% over the past year has been an over-correction. In the latest trading update Burberry revealed that despite the slowdown in China, comparable sales remained even in Asia overall while retail revenue for the group rose 1% year-on-year. The latest half-year results saw profits increase by 3% even as revenue remained flat, and management expects further efficiency gains to produce more profits during the next results announcement. Strong brand loyalty has allowed operating margins to increase to just shy of 14%, which affords the company significant pricing power going forward.

The poor news streaming out of China over the past months is mainly concerned with the Chinese stock market, which is barely correlated to the real economy. The shift to a more consumption-driven economy and GDP growth expected to continue in the 6.5% range for the medium term signals that Burberry’s market in China should return to growth soon. With shares trading at 15 times earnings, a 3% dividend yield and a very healthy balance sheet, I see Burberry shares as an exciting bargain buy at present prices.

Good news from Asia

While Burberry will want to see increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers spending their extra cash on scarves and trench coats, Prudential would like them to be more practical and purchase life insurance and mutual funds. So far, despite the slowdown in China, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Prudential saw Asian revenue for the first nine months of 2015 grow a full 31% year-on-year. Despite this good news, share prices are down 25% from their March peak on China news and long-time CEO Tidjane Thiam’s departure for Credit Suisse.

Yet Thiam’s departure shouldn’t rock the boat for Prudential as the new management team has signalled a continuation of the long-established plans that have rewarded shareholders for years. New capital requirement regulations announced last week will limit Prudential’s ability to increase dividends over the short term, but won’t require new capital to be raised due to management foresight. Even with dividends remaining at current levels, they’ll yield 2.9% with a forecast P/E ratio of a mere 10.8 for 2016. This attractive valuation and considerable growth prospects in Asia and other developing markets lead me to believe Prudential is a relative bargain today that will reward shareholders for the long term.

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Ian Pierce has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Burberry. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.