Investing in ASX value shares

If you love hunting down a bargain, then ASX value shares might be worth exploring. Discover how to identify value stocks and why they might be an excellent addition to your investment portfolio.

Value spelt out with a magnifying glass.

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What are ASX value shares?

Value stocks are companies that are perceived to be trading at bargain prices relative to their underlying business performance. Perhaps they have been unfairly punished by the market because of recent negative publicity, a one-off lousy result, or they just operate in a less popular sector of the economy.

Therefore, value shares possess more robust fundamentals than their current share prices would otherwise indicate. In other words, these shares are trading on the stock market for less than their intrinsic value (potentially presenting an ideal buying opportunity).

Why invest in them? 

The idea underpinning value investing is that, over time, stock prices will reflect their intrinsic value. If a share's price drops below its inherent value, it will eventually "correct" and move higher again. Value investors seek to profit over time by capitalising on these minor corrections in the share price.

Value investors try to identify bargain stocks by analysing some of their key financial metrics, like their price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio), dividend yield, or return on equity. They then buy those shares that offer the best value, hoping they'll soon increase in value.

Value stocks are typically more mature companies – sometimes even blue chips. This is because there needs to be a lot of information available about the company's financial performance for value investors to use in their analysis. Value investors use this information to make educated bets about which shares are trading below their intrinsic value. This tends to make value investing a lower-risk trading strategy than growth investing. 

Growth investors make more speculative bets about which up-and-coming companies will be tomorrow's market leaders. However, because growth stocks are junior companies, there is less financial data available about them. This is a more risky trading strategy than value investing, but growth investors try to capitalise on much larger movements in share prices. 

Top value stocks on the ASX

Identifying value shares can be subjective. After all, what seems like a bargain to one investor may seem like a bona fide dud to another. So, with that broad caveat out of the way, here are three significant ASX shares that could offer good value to investors right now, rated by market capitalisation from high to low.

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW)Australia's largest supermarket chain
Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX: TWE)One of the largest winemaking companies in the world
Challenger Ltd (ASX: CGF)Financial services and annuities business


Woolworths operates Australia's largest chain of supermarket and grocery stores. For the 52 weeks ended 25 June 2023, Woolworths generated more than $64 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion in net profit. These are some hefty numbers despite the headwinds to consumer confidence from rising inflation and interest rates.

While inflationary pressures on costs remain risky, supermarkets are often good defensive shares to hold during an economic downturn, as demand for food and pantry staples is relatively inelastic. This means that whenever there is a dip in the Woolworths share price, it could represent good buying opportunities for value investors.

Treasury Wine Estates

Shares in Treasury Wine Estates collapsed in 2020 after the Chinese Government announced it was hitting its Australian wine imports with a whopping 169% tariff – and the industry hasn't fully recovered since. Treasury Wine Estates used to sell about $500 million worth of wine to China each year, and the tariffs dealt a devastating blow to the company when COVID-19 lockdowns were also limiting wine sales to hospitality venues.

However, trade relations with China seem to be improving recently, and whispers are going around that China may even consider reversing its hefty wine tariffs. Meanwhile, the company has been increasing its sales by targeting regions outside of mainland China. This gives the Treasury Wines share price plenty of upside potential, should things fall its way.  


Challenger is an investment management company that specialises in annuities. When you buy an annuity, you pay a large sum of money upfront in exchange for a regular income stream over the investment term. In the case of a lifetime annuity, the term is the rest of your life. These products cater mainly to retirees who want to ensure a steady income throughout their retirement.

Challenger benefits from rising interest rates because it invests its capital into fixed-income investments. It then uses the interest from these investments to make regular payments to customers. As rates rise, the return Challenger earns on new investments increases, and so should its profit margins.

This also means that the Challenger presents a good option for value investors. Its share price should remain resilient even when other areas of the economy are struggling under a higher rate environment. And that means small dips in its share price could offer good buying opportunities.

What to look for when investing in value shares

Value investors essentially believe in the principle that the market tends to overreact to good or bad news.

They think investors often get overexcited by good news about a company and bid up its share price to excessively high levels. But they equally believe that if shareholders see a negative story in the media on a company they own, they tend to panic unnecessarily and sell their shares before taking the time to properly consider whether it is the best long-term decision to make.

This herd behaviour can result in shares falling to bargain prices, allowing other investors to profit by picking them up for less than their intrinsic worth.

Value investors try to identify shares that have been oversold by focusing on key valuation metrics. These often include (but are not limited to):

Price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio 

This is a commonly used financial metric that shows how much an investor has to pay per dollar of return on their investment. We calculate the P/E ratio by dividing a company's share price by its earnings per share (EPS).

A company's earnings (or net profits) represent shareholder returns. It is the excess cash a company can use to either pay dividends (which means income to shareholders) or reinvest into growing the company (which should eventually translate into a higher share price and a future capital gain for shareholders).

A high P/E ratio shows investors are willing to pay a lot per dollar of incremental return. While this might be a sign that a company is overvalued, it can also indicate that investors are willing to pay a premium now with the expectation that the company will grow earnings significantly in the future. A low P/E ratio, on the other hand, may indicate that a company is trading at a bargain.

The average P/E ratio for the Australian market tends to be around 151, although this can change over time depending on business conditions and the economic outlook. So, the market may consider a share with a P/E ratio below 15 relatively undervalued, while a share with a ratio above 15 may be considered relatively overvalued or expensive.  

However, it's important to point out that, on its own, a share's P/E ratio doesn't tell you too much about whether the stock offers good value. 

P/E ratios can be a good measure of relative value when compared against other shares in the same or similar market sectors. A share with a P/E ratio that seems low may actually be high relative to its competitors – meaning it may not offer good value after all.

Price-to-book (P/B) ratio 

We calculate a stock's P/B ratio by dividing its price by the company's book value per share. Book value, or net value, is a company's assets less its liabilities, and measures how much a company is worth.

A share's P/B ratio shows how much investors are willing to pay for a dollar of the company's net assets. A P/B ratio of about one indicates a share is fairly priced – investors pay a dollar per dollar of net assets. A ratio of less than 0.5 might indicate a bargain to value investors, as it shows that the company's shares are trading for less than half their book value.

Debt-to-equity ratio

When a company wants to finance its operations, it can either take out some form of loan (by borrowing money or selling bonds) or raise money by issuing new shares (also called equity). A company's debt-to-equity ratio measures how much of its financing it raises through debt relative to equity.

A debt-to-equity ratio below one is typically considered safe. If a company finds itself in dire straits, it could sell some of its assets to cover its debts and possibly survive.

On the other hand, a debt-to-equity ratio of two or above is getting into more risky territory. If the company suffered a crisis, it might be much more difficult to meet its debt obligations.

A high debt-to-equity can be risky for shareholders because it may indicate that a company has an unsustainably high level of debt. This can pose a problem because a company needs to earn enough money to meet its interest obligations. Otherwise, it risks defaulting on loan repayments and could even go bankrupt.

However, on its own, a high debt-to-equity ratio isn't necessarily bad, and it needs to be understood in the context of the broader industry in which the company operates. For example, some sectors – like the airline industry – tend to be highly leveraged, so their debt-to-equity ratios are likely to be relatively high.

Difference between ASX growth and value shares

Although investors buy both growth and value stocks in the hope they will profit from a future price gain, they are motivated by very different factors.

A growth stock is typically a junior company that may not yet be turning a profit. Investors buy them based on their perception of each company's market opportunities and future earnings potential. As such, growth stocks tend to be riskier investments than value stocks, although the potential return for investors may be much greater.

A value stock is more likely to be an established company that the market has oversold and is now trading at a lower price than its underlying fundamentals would suggest it is worth. Value investors will buy the undervalued stock, hoping that its price will soon revert to a level more in line with its intrinsic value. 

A value stock is typically a lower risk than a growth stock because it is more likely to be a mature company – but this also means that the potential shareholder returns on offer are probably lower.

Benefits of investing in value shares

Who doesn't love a bargain? Investing in value shares means following the simple strategy popularised by Warren Buffett: buy low and sell high.

Lower risk: Value investors typically target more mature companies with a proven track record, so the risk is lower (and less speculative) than growth investing. This might suit investors with a lower risk appetite but still looking to grow the value of their wealth over the longer term.

And the cons

Time-consuming research: To identify a value stock, you need to have a good general understanding of the stock market and intimate knowledge of the company's financials. This may require many hours of research and careful monitoring of market price fluctuations. Not every investor has the spare time available to pursue such a strategy.

Lower share price growth: Value investors often seek to profit from smaller movements in share prices than growth investors. This might mean the gains generated from a value investing strategy may not be enough to justify the time spent on it – particularly for investors with smaller amounts of money available to invest in the stock market.

Are ASX value shares right for you?

Value investing requires a fair amount of research and industry knowledge. It's not always easy to identify which ASX shares are bargains and which are genuine duds – which often makes value investing a subjective exercise. You're not always going to get it right. What you think might be a temporary drop in a company's share price could be the beginning of a significant crash.

Therefore, before investing in a company, ensure you have a firm grasp of its financials and understand the key factors affecting its industry. And, most importantly, make sure you can explain why you think the market currently undervalues it. If you can't do that, then it's just pure speculation!

Article Sources


  1. Commonwealth Bank, “60 second guide: P/E ratio

This article contains general educational content only and does not take into account your personal financial situation. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered, and you may need to seek independent financial advice.

To the best of our knowledge, all information in this article is accurate as of time of posting. In our educational articles, a 'top share' is always defined by the largest market cap at the time of last update. On this page, neither the author nor The Motley Fool have chosen a 'top share' by personal opinion.

As always, remember that when investing, the value of your investment may rise or fall, and your capital is at risk.

Motley Fool contributor Rhys Brock has positions in Treasury Wine Estates. 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 Challenger and Treasury Wine Estates. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.