3 ASX shares to win when lockdown ends

WAM Leaders had an excellent 2021 financial year, but on which stocks have its portfolio managers placed bets for the coming period?

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As retail investors, it’s always fascinating to see which ASX shares the professionals have put their money in.

The public had access to such an insight this week when listed investment company WAM Leaders Ltd (ASX: WLE) hosted a webinar to present its interim results.

Wilson Asset Management staff justifiably had their chests out proud after an outstanding 2021 financial year.

“The portfolio outperformed over 9%,” said Wilson Asset Management chair Geoff Wilson.

“In terms of the performance of the portfolio, it was up 37%.”

But the real interest was in how the fund is positioned now for the coming period. What does the team think are the best bets for the months after Australia defeats the delta variant of COVID-19?

Portfolio manager John Ayoub acknowledged that the mix had now pivoted.

“In the past you would have heard us talk about sectors like gold, defensives such as Coles Group Ltd (ASX: COL), Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW), some of the bond proxies like Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) and Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd (ASX: SYD) as defence mechanisms in our portfolio,” he said.

“Where we find ourselves today, is we have certainly pivoted away from those stocks and we have taken more cyclical, more financial and more commodity bets, [and] more growth commodity bets for the outlook for the next 6 to 12 months.”

Let’s take a look at 3 ASX shares that WAM Leaders currently hold.

ASX share trading at 30% discount to assets

WAM Leaders is currently stocking up on an ASX stock that’s currently going for far less than what its underlying assets are worth.

According to Aoyub, shopping centre operator Scentre Group (ASX: SCG) is still trading at a 30% to 40% discount to net tangible assets. 

“People are forgetting that once we return to normal — and we will return to normal — people will visit shopping centres again,” he said.

“What we are seeing from traffic data in places like Western Australia, that not only do people return to shopping centres, they return more so than previously.”

He emphasised that WAM Leaders expects that over the next 2 to 3 years investors will witness “some serious earnings per share growth” from cyclical stocks.

Scentre shares were down 2.43% on Thursday, to trade at $2.61 late in the afternoon. The stock is down almost 6.5% for the year.

Health shares to win from elective surgeries revival

As more hospital resources are released from coronavirus duties, surgeries will ramp up to clear the pandemic-induced backlog.

Ayoub’s team likes the look of Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) and Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) to take advantage of this situation.

“As we all start to return to elective surgeries, their balance sheets are really robust and we can see good organic growth coming through over the next 3 years.”

In addition, according to Ayoub, Sonic has already benefited from the pandemic through its role as a COVID test provider.

“But equally… we see the company as a significant player in mergers and acquisitions going forward and it should grow via acquisition.”

Sonic shares were going for $38.66 on Thursday afternoon, which is 17.6% up on the year.

Ramsay stocks have been flat for the year, trading at $63.11 on Thursday.

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Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Ramsay Health Care Limited and Sonic Healthcare Limited. 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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