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Top UK shares for 2021! I think these cheap growth stocks could double my money

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Private investor buying UK shares at home
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Make no mistake: the stock market crash of early 2020 presents the most attractive investing opportunity for years. It’s allowed long-term investors like me to buy quality UK shares at bargain-basement prices. And there remain plenty of top stocks that continue to trade far too cheaply following earlier share price collapses.

The Covid-19 crisis has created huge problems for many UK shares. But for many companies, these troubles are likely to be fleeting. Remember that the FTSE 100 doubled in value in the decade following the 2008/09 banking crisis as corporate profits rebounded. I expect stock prices to explode again this time around, meaning that those who invest today could stand to make a fortune.

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The two growth stocks I describe below should record spectacular earnings recoveries in 2021. I’d buy them for my Stocks and Shares ISA today and hold them for years:

Screen of price moves in the FTSE 100

#1: A formidable foodie

2020 has proved a disaster for food-to-go specialists like Greencore Group (LSE: GNC). Sales of edible goods like these slumped this year as the pandemic forced people to stay at home. This particular UK share saw adjusted pre-tax profits slumping more than 80% in the fiscal year to September 2020. And it was forced into a fresh share placing last month to help it weather the storm.

This year’s problems, though significant, are likely to prove a temporary speed bump in Greencore’s growth story. The food-to-go segment was rocketing prior to Covid-19 restrictions and, according to IGD, growing twice as fast as the broader UK food and grocery retail market. FTSE 250-quoted Greencore can look forward to demand for its goods ripping higher again as people return to the outside world, I feel.

It’s why City analysts reckon Greencore’s annual earnings will rocket 149% in fiscal 2021. This reading leaves the share trading on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) reading of 0.1, making it a brilliant pick for value-hungry growth investors like me.

#2: Another top UK share for 2021+

Student accommodation providers have also suffered significantly from Covid-19 as university attendance has been hit. Take Unite Group (LSE: UTG). The FTSE 250 company’s last update showed that only 88% of its bed spaces had been let for the 2020/21 academic year versus 98% a year earlier.

On a brighter note, though, it has seen check-in numbers improve in recent weeks. It’s hoped that this represents the first step in a return to normality and could prompt a significant earnings recovery in 2021. City analysts reckon Unite’s bottom line will bounce 50% next year. And this leaves it trading on a PEG ratio of 0.6.

Don’t think that Unite’s just a top pick for strong profits growth in 2021, though. This particular accommodation market is rocketing and, according to RWinvest, there are around 2.3m students in the UK. This compares with 1.5m two decades ago. And the business is expanding aggressively to capitalise on this lucrative market (last month it exchanged contracts to acquire an 800-bed development site in Paddington, London with targeted delivery for the 2023/24 academic year).

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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Greencore. 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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