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2 UK shares to buy today at a discount

Many people like a bargain. Value investors hunt for shares they think are cheap. Being cheap compared to possible future value is one thing. But some shares even look cheap compared to their current assets. Here are two UK shares to buy today that I …

Many people like a bargain. Value investors hunt for shares they think are cheap. Being cheap compared to possible future value is one thing.

But some shares even look cheap compared to their current assets. Here are two UK shares to buy today that I would consider for my portfolio as they trade at a discount to their net asset value.

Construction specialist

The firm Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD) has slimmed down in recent years so its name seems less noticeable on building sites than it once was. I think the new focus has made the company more attractive.

For example, by applying rigorous bidding criteria when tendering for contracts, it will hopefully avoid the trap of winning work that ends up being unprofitable. In the first half of this year, the company turned in operating profits before amortisation of GBP3.9m. It also resumed its dividend.

In a trading statement yesterday, Galliford Try said it has been making further good progress and expects to report final results at the top end of analysts' forecasts. The strong business performance earns Galliford Try a place on my list of UK shares to buy today for my portfolio.

UK shares to buy today with net cash

The business performance isn't the only thing that attracts me. At the half year point, Galliford Try reported a net cash position of GBP211m.

But the current market capitalisation is only GBP163m, even after the shares responded positively to this week's trading update. So Galliford Try offers a business performing well, with a resumed dividend - and more net cash per share than the share price. I see Galliford Try as among UK shares to buy today.

There are risks, though. Construction is notoriously cyclical, and if the current strong demand for public works projects declines, that could hurt revenues at Galliford Try.

Back on the road

Galliford Try isn't the only name on my list of UK shares to buy now for my portfolio. When it comes to the car dealership Lookers (LSE: LOOK), the only discount a lot of people might hope for would be on a vehicle they're buying.

But Lookers shares also trade at a discount, in this case to the value of its property portfolio. The current market capitalisation of Lookers stands at GBP250m. By contrast, its property portfolio was valued at around GBP300m according to the company's annual results published this month.

On top of that, the company is also sitting on net cash of GBP18m.

UK shares to buy today: Lookers

Like Galliford Try, Lookers trades at a discount to key parts of its balance sheet - but it is also attractive as a business to me. As one of the UK's largest car dealerships, it is benefitting from a release of pent-up demand for car purchase. The board said this month that it remains confident about the outlook for 2021, in the absence of negative impact from pandemic restrictions or car supply issues.

Those are risks, admittedly. Also, some customers may still be wary of Lookers after a previous accounting scandal damaged its reputation. But I am happy to hold it in my portfolio and would consider adding more of these shares while they trade at a discount to the company's property portfolio.

Christopher Ruane owns shares in Lookers.

The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned.

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.

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