My 5 Best Investment Ideas


LONDON -- Never mind the eurozone crisis -- this is an amazing time to buy shares or funds. There are dozens of bargains out there at the moment, and personally, I am bubbling with investment ideas. If only I had the spare cash to buy into them!

For anyone who is just thinking about starting out as an investor, this is the ideal time to build an investment portfolio that will keep you in good stead for many years to come. (If this applies to you and you're not sure where to start, then The Motley Fool has a helpful guide available to download for free: "What Every New Investor Needs To Know.")

Without further ado, here are my five best investment ideas.

I think we can recognize the pattern now. Every time the eurozone crisis hits the headlines, the banks get trashed.

Barclays (NYS: BCS) has suffered of late, but it is still a hugely profitable operation. In particular, unlike Lloyds Banking Group or Royal Bank of Scotland, its empire extends well beyond high-street banking. It is a world leader in credit cards, and it has recently sold a 20% stake in fund-management company BlackRock.

But I think the ace in the pack is Barclays' investment banking arm. Barclays Capital acquired the remnants of Lehman Brothers in 2008 for a price well below book value. Investment banking now makes up half of the firm's profits, and it is poised to do even better once the worst of the crisis is over.

Of all the U.K. banks, Barclays is the best investment opportunity for me. A quick check of the numbers confirms my view. At the current price of 181 pence, the company is on a price-to-earnings ratio of less than five, with a dividend yield of 3%. This is a strong buy.

Other shares that have taken a battering as the eurozone crisis has played out are resources companies. They now look substantially oversold, leaving bargains aplenty.

Which to go for? Well, I could have plumped for a BP or a Shell, and certainly both look like great values at the moment. But my pick is oil equipment and services business Petrofac (ISE: PFC.L) .

This company has had an incredible run, and it is one of the great growth stories of the resources sector. After sinking in the depths of last year's eurozone ructions, the shares have been climbing and climbing.

Many -- myself included -- would have felt that they had missed the boat with Petrofac and turned their attention to other businesses. But the share price has fallen back from its highs, leaving investors with another opportunity to get on board. The forward P/E ratio of 13 and the dividend yield of 2.5% may not seem that attractive, but this is a growth, rather than a value, play. In 2010 the chief executive set the lofty target of a doubling of profits in five years -- and so far Petrofac is on track to do it. This is a growth play that delivers.

Insurance companies are very much out of favor at the moment but this will eventually change. When it does, holders of companies such as Royal & Sun Alliance (ISE: RSA.L) will be sitting pretty. What is particularly mouth-watering at the moment is this firm's yield. At the current price of 100 pence, RSA is yielding 9%, with a P/E ratio of just five.

A fellow Fool has recently sung the praises of this company, and I agree with him. High-yielding RSA is a stonking buy at the moment.

I have previously considered India overvalued. I think I was right, as the Indian stock market has been doing poorly in recent years.

But I now think it is finally in buying range. Indian shares are now on a trailing P/E ratio of 16. This may not seem cheap, but until recently the P/E ratio was in the 20s. Why is there such a premium for investing in India? Because this country, to me, looks much like China did a decade ago. India has many more years of rapid growth ahead of it. Plus, India has superior demographics, with a population that is growing considerably faster than that of China and a huge middle class that is just starting to spend.

What's more, not only has the stock market fallen, but the Indian rupee has been tumbling, falling around 20% in a year. This makes Indian shares even cheaper. So investors who buy in now can benefit from this financial double-whammy.

I have long espoused investing in this, the cheapest of the BRICs. The Russian stock market stands on a P/E ratio of just five. That is ridiculously cheap. As Russia is heavily weighted to resource stocks, the market has been knocked hard by the troubles in the eurozone. But this has created a buying opportunity.

What's more, just as with India, we see the one-two punch: The current crisis has caused both the Russian market and the rouble to slide. So here is a great opportunity to buy into a BRIC at rock-bottom prices.

Let me finish by adding that more share ideas can be found within "Top Sectors for 2012" -- a Motley Fool study of three favorable sectors that could offer great opportunities for long-term investors. The report is free.

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At the time thisarticle was published Prabhat owns shares in RSA and BP, but none of the other companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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