Why are Barclays plc, Anglo American plc and Worldpay Group plc so cheap?

Shares in Anglo American (LSE: AAL) trade on a rather cheap valuation, despite having risen by 100% since the turn of the year. Clearly, the company is expected to post a rather disappointing set of results in the current year as commodity price falls take their toll. But next year Anglo American is forecast to record a rise in its earnings of 38% and based on this, the company has a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.4.

Such a low PEG ratio indicates that further share price gains are on the cards for Anglo American. Certainly, the company’s financial and share price performance is likely to be very volatile, since the outlook for the mining sector remains unstable. And with investor sentiment being somewhat cautious, Anglo American’s shares are being held back, at least to some extent, due to fears of a commodity price pullback.

While this can’t be ruled out, Anglo American seems to have a sufficiently wide margin of safety to merit purchase at the present time. Therefore, it could be a top-notch performer.

Long-term strategy

Also trading on a low valuation is Barclays (LSE: BARC). The banking giant has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 11.9, but when its forecasts for next year are taken into account its rating falls to only 7.4. This indicates that Barclays is extremely unpopular at the present time and a key reason for this is its decision to reduce dividends as it seeks to strengthen its financial position.

Such a move may well be unpopular with a number of investors in the short run, but for Barclays’ long-term financial performance it could prove to be a sound decision. That’s because it will strengthen the bank’s capital position and may lead to more resilient and fast-growing earnings numbers in the coming years.

As is often the case with new management teams, they implement decisions that are unpopular in the short run but that gradually come good over an extended period. With such a wide margin of safety on offer, Barclays appears to be well-worth buying based on an appealing risk/reward ratio.

Stunning growth ahead?

Similarly, technology-led payment specialist Worldpay (LSE: WPG) also offers considerable upside potential. It trades on a P/E ratio of 24.9 and while this is rather rich, Worldpay is expected to deliver stunning earnings growth over the next two years. In fact, in the 2017 financial year its bottom line is due to be 56% higher than it was in 2015. Consequently, this puts its shares on a PEG ratio of only 1.1, which indicates that now could be an excellent time to buy them.

Investor sentiment towards Worldpay is rather weak and this has been a contributory factor in its share price decline of 13% since the turn of the year. And with the outlook for the world economy being decidedly uncertain, many investors are seeking to avoid higher rated stocks such as Worldpay. However, for long-term investors, it remains a top-notch buy.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of Anglo American and Barclays. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.