3 beaten-up bargains for investors with a cast-iron stomach

The leasing and consumer credit sector has taken a thorough beating over the past year or so. FlexiGroup Limited (ASX: FXL) is down 41%, Thorn Group Ltd (ASX: TGA) has lost 49%, while Yellow Brick Road Holdings Ltd (ASX: YBR) is down 60%.

Currently out of favour with the market, none of these businesses are suited for investors that haven’t got the ability to grin and bear it until sentiment improves – but for those that can, there looks to be some great value on offer here.

FlexiGroup Limited – trades on a Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio of ~12, yields 9.3% fully franked

Like Thorn Group below, FlexiGroup shares have been hit hard by market bearishness about the consumer leasing and credit segments. Additionally, FlexiGroup’s earnings this year will be impacted by write-downs and closure of non-core businesses that deliver lower returns than its core segments. However, cash profits remain unaffected (and actually grew), which will comfortably cover the 9.3% dividend.

With the dividend payout costing only around half the company’s cash earnings, FlexiGroup appears in a solid financial position and could prove a bargain even if its business does little more than stagnate.

Thorn Group Ltd – trades on a P/E of 10, yields 9.2% fully franked

Thorn Group’s profits were also hit recently by write-downs and the closure of underperforming segments, although again its cash earnings remained strong and covered the company’s monster dividend. Unlike FlexiGroup, Thorn carries the additional baggage of an investigation from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and regulatory uncertainty about the fees it can charge customers.

The outcome is uncertain at this stage, but with a sustainable business that delivers a valuable service to its target segment, Thorn could be good value today.

Yellow Brick Road Holdings – unprofitable, no dividends

Yellow Brick Road is a home loans and investment manager currently focussed on growing scale in the Australian market and taking market share from the big banks. Run by Mark Bouris, Yellow Brick Road now controls an estimated 4.3% of the mortgage market – up from 3.3% a year ago – and scale continues to grow through acquisitions and clever marketing.

The company boasts a number of products that have been rated best-in-class and also has one of Australia’s lowest home loan rates. A higher risk investment and as yet unprofitable, Yellow Brick Road shares currently look like good value for the patient, risk-tolerant investor.

Of course, not all beaten-up shares are a bargain.

Discover The Motley Fool's latest special report 3 Rotten Shares to Sell, and 1 to Buy Today - you'll find a full rundown on 3 shares we think you should avoid today plus one top pick worth buying, even if the market turns south and the RBA keeps rates at an "emergency low." Simply click here to read the full report - it's free!

Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares of Thorn Group Limited and Yellow Brick Road Holdings Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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