Although the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) has fallen by more than 7.3% since the start of 2016, many of the top blue-chip stocks still remain an unattractive value proposition. Regular investors would already be aware of the headwinds facing many of the top 20 companies in the index and it is for that reason I believe the best value opportunities lie outside of this group of companies.
Additionally, many of the best quality companies have not suffered the same heavy share price declines as those with difficult growth outlooks. This in no more apparent than in the energy and resources sector were lower commodity prices coupled with fears of a slowing Chinese economy have hit these shares the hardest.
There are, however, a number of smaller growth companies that have become more attractive since the start of 2016, and these are the companies I would encourage investors to consider adding to their portfolios.
If I had $15,000 to invest right now, here are three stocks I would be comfortable allocating $5,000 each to:
1. Tassal Group Limited (ASX: TGR) – Although the share price of the salmon producer has increased by more than 17% over the past 12 months, I think the current valuation still provides an attractive opportunity for investors. Tassal is currently trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of around 13 and with solid growth forecast for FY16, analysts are expecting a dividend yield of around 4.2% over the next year.
The company operates in a growing industry and the demand for salmon and seafood continues to increase as consumers become more health conscious. The recent acquisition of De Costi Seafoods also provides an additional revenue stream and provides a larger distribution network for its core salmon products. The combination of these factors along with a strong balance sheet should see Tassal prosper over the coming years.
One point investors should keep in mind however, is that Tassal is exposed to the natural environment and this can often be out-of-the-producers control which means the stock carries a higher than normal level of risk.
2. G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM) – The child care operator has fallen out of favour with investors over the past 18 months as some investors question whether or not its business model is sustainable with its current level of debt and whether it can continue to keep paying its very generous dividend. The share price has fallen nearly 11% since the start of 2016 and by more than 33% since reaching its 52-week high of $4.87.
Despite these concerns, I believe the negative sentiment has produced a reasonably attractive value proposition for long term investors. The demand for childcare continues to grow and this trend is likely to continue over the long term as rising cost of living pressures require parents to rejoin the workforce earlier.
Although G8’s share price is unlikely to rebound in the short term, the stock appears undervalued and I will be taking this opportunity to add to my position.
3. FlexiGroup Limited (ASX: FXL) – 2015 was a turbulent year for shareholders of Flexigroup and it appears there could be more of the same in 2016, with the share price already down by nearly 15%.
This is not entirely bad news for investors as the recent pull-back appears to have created a decent buying opportunity. Shares in the diversified financial services company are now trading on a P/E of less than 9 and investors can expect to receive a fully franked dividend yield of around 6.5%.
The company has been investing heavily in technology and digitisation to improve efficiencies and these benefits should be realised over the next few years. Additionally, its recent acquisition of Fisher & Paykel Finance will diversify its geographic footprint in New Zealand and provide a solid base for further expansion.
Investors should note, the shares can be volatile and therefore may not be suitable for very conservative investors.