It’s just over a year since fund manager Neil Woodford decided to shut down and liquidate his flagship Equity Income Fund.
Woodford investors have received some cash, but the fund still contains around £550m of unsold holdings. These are proving difficult to sell, which means investors are still waiting for their final payout.
After such a bad experience, many investors may be thinking about avoiding funds and investing directly in shares. If that’s you, then the good news is that I believe this year’s stock market crash has created some great buying opportunities. In this piece, I want to look at three UK shares I’d buy today.
A Neil Woodford favourite
My first pick is a stock that Woodford did own for many years. Indeed, the fund manager’s stake in British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS) was a great example of the kind of big cap contrarian pick that helped make his name.
Woodford added BAT to his funds around the turn of the century, when Big Tobacco was seriously out of favour. The FTSE 100 tobacco stock went on to be a multibagger and delivered many years of generous, rising dividends.
I think we could be in a similar situation today. Tobacco is out of favour again and the BAT share price has fallen by 40% over the last three years.
Investors are still worrying about the end of smoking, but I’m not convinced. Although the market is declining slowly, it’s still very large and very profitable. BAT sold £26bn of cigarettes in 2019, with a 35% operating margin.
Today, BAT trades on less than 10 times forecast earnings and offers a dividend yield of more than 6.5%. The shares look like a buy to me.
More parcels than ever
The UK lockdown triggered a massive surge in parcel shipments, according to Royal Mail (LSE: RMG). The company recently said that UK parcel volumes rose by 31% in April, while letter numbers fell by 33%.
Royal Mail’s valuation has been battered by several years’ of poor performance. But the postal operator has a near-50% share of the UK parcel market and very little debt.
There’s also a £3bn property portfolio. This is worth more than the £1.8bn market cap, providing attractive asset backing for the share price – a classic value indicator.
Royal Mail now needs to find a new chief executive who can complete its transformation to a modern, parcel-focused business. The group faces tough competition, but I think it should succeed.
Investors buying today will need to be patient, but I think this stock could double over the next three to five years.
My final pick is B&Q owner Kingfisher. This DIY retailer also owns fast-growing Screwfix. The group has reported strong trading since B&Q stores reopened in April.
Although a recession could slow demand for big ticket purchases like new kitchens, I think Kingfisher’s valuation already reflects a pretty grim outlook. At around 200p, the Kingfisher share price is at a level not seen since the last major recession in 2009.
While profits have fallen over the last few years, it’s worth remembering that Kingfisher is still more profitable than some UK supermarkets.
I think this company is exactly the kind of business Neil Woodford might have bought back in his heyday. I rate Kingfisher as a recovery buy.
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Roland Head owns shares of British American Tobacco. 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.