Having some of each is the way to go ... hidden value stocks.

Having some of each is the way to go ... hidden value stocks.

It seems even the best share-fund managers are straining to find screaming buys, though perhaps they have and don't want to let on while they're snapping them up.

The trouble is that hiding behind the lacklustre performance of the All Ordinaries Index have been stocks that have had such a good run they're no longer great value for the price.

At the other end lie the banks, worth about one-quarter of the market.

Their double-digit dividend yields after franking are very attractive, except that's because nobody expects their prices to do much.

Still, there are stocks, such as the following (in alphabetical order), that fund managers say you could buy tomorrow for their value.

Having some of each is probably the way to go.

 

BEGA CHEESE

Mining commodity prices seem to have peaked, so a stand-by boom would be handy.

Soft commodities, as economists call food, may be it since the world has to eat and the amount of land dedicated to farming is shrinking. Also rising living standards in Asia call for more protein.

The trouble is there aren't many agribusiness stocks listed. Good old Bega Cheese is one. It's old all right – 113years – but has only been listed for eight months.

Bega exports infant formula to Asia and has a long-term contract to supply cheese under the Coles house brand.

"Bega's large operational asset base puts it in good stead for further industry rationalisation and export opportunities. It's leveraged to increasing dairy consumption in Asia," says Leanne Pan, the joint chief investment officer of Prime Value's Growth Fund, which each year has on average doubled the sharemarket's return since it started in 1998.

 

BHP BILLITON

You'd be amazed how many fund managers didn't mention BHP Billiton. Its share price is lagging the rest of the market, which hasn't been doing much anyway, for the past year. Their view is enough isn't enough, because it could easily pay a bigger dividend.

John Abernethy, who manages Clime's Australian Value Fund, which boasts an annual return of 24per cent during the past three years, says it will have to lift its dividend or face a shareholder revolt ("it's buyback strategy was silly in retrospect") but that doesn't dent his enthusiasm for the stock.

"The market is overly focusing on iron-ore prices and underestimating volume increases. It's putting no value on the quality of its balance sheet and not giving BHP credit for being able to slow its capital expenditure program," he says.

 

CONTANGO MICROCAP

All Contango MicroCap does is invest in other stocks, yet its share price is 25per cent below their value.

Say no more. Geoff Wilson's WAM Capital, also a listed investment company with a track record of spotting opportunities, has been buying the stock for that very reason.

Another anomaly is Ironbark, which trades 10per cent below the value of its holdings. Yet under its constitution its shareholders can vote to liquidate the portfolio and get the money back in 2014-15.

Seems a sure bet, except you'd be punting on the sharemarket not slumping so far that the value of its portfolio falls below the price you paid for its shares. But then if you thought that's going to happen, there'd be no point buying any shares.

 

ILUKA

Zircon isn't another hybrid werewolf but a sand that puts the shine into bathroom tiles and ceramics – and Iluka is the world's biggest supplier.

Thanks to a lack of new deposits, "zircon is much more likely to be undersupplied than any other commodity class," Kate Howitt, a portfolio manager for Fidelity, says.

It's also an each-way bet on China. If it continues to boom, Iluka will do well – almost one-third of China's zircon is used in tiles.

"The flipside is in a lacklustre low-growth world the yield could be in double digits in a year or two, because the zircon market is very tight," Howitt says.

 

INSURANCE AUSTRALIA GROUP

The biggest general insurer best known for its NRMA and CGU brands has had a rough trough but that makes it better value now.

"The industry has pricing power and IAG has strong market shares," the head of equities at Perpetual, Matt Williams, says. "It's been hit by natural perils but on a more normalised result it looks quite cheap."

Also a fan of IAG is the principal of Alphinity, Johan Carlberg, who says insurance companies "normalise" profits when premiums are raised to compensate for claims. "They increase premiums as claims start to come down," he says.

 

JUMBO INTERACTIVE

Jumbo runs the popular online gambling site OzLotteries.com and "there's concern in the market because Tattersalls may take the online licences away from them, but it wouldn't be a game breaker," Wilson says.

Jumbo has its eyes on the US, where several states have just legalised online lottery sales. "If they won a state it would be a significant positive," says Wilson, perhaps making it the ultimate punt.

 

NEWS CORPORATION

Like its newspapers, News Corporation divides fund managers.

But one who likes it is Matt Williams, where Perpetual's Pure Value Share Fund, closed to new investors, has returned an annual 30per cent for the past three years.

News has "a superb balance sheet and although there is a lot of poor sentiment about the UK newspapers, they're only a fraction of its overall business," he says.

Even better, its share buyback is worth "more than 10per cent of its issued capital each year," Williams says.

 

SYDNEY AIRPORT

The managing director of Sirius Fund Management, Kieran Kelly, prefers monopolies and Sydney Airport is a geographic one. "If you have a niche and can protect it, a monopoly will get above the average return on equity," he says.

Even if Sydney got a second airport, Sydney Airport has the first rights to manage it. "It's a very nice earnings stream with ... a growing asset base," Howitt says.

 

TELSTRA

Ah, Telstra. Who would have thought? Here's a stock that hasn't so much reinvented itself as had reinvention forced on it thanks to the NBN.

Its stocks have fluctuated with the government's, which is why it had been doing so badly, as the $11 billion NBN deal could be jettisoned. But the opposition says its scheme, whatever it is, would pay Telstra, too. So there goes the political risk.

In fact, Telstra has become quite the fund managers' favourite with a dividend yield of 12per cent a year, taking the 30per cent tax credit from franking into account.

With a return such as that it hardly matters what the price does for the next few years, which is probably nothing anyway. But no super fund should be without it.

Telstra, News Corporation and IAG "aren't super cheap but you can comfortably own these for the next two or three years. They shouldn't disappoint investors," Williams says.

 

WESFARMERS

Best known as the owner of Coles – which is going gangbusters against Woolies – and Bunnings, Wesfarmers is also a coal miner, insurer and chemical manufacturer.

It's one-stop, one-stock diversification but the market is wary of conglomerates, which has kept the share price down.

"Its retailing capability is really impressive. The work it has done since it acquired Coles is quite extraordinary," the general manager of investments at Australian Unity, David Bryant, says.

Low inflation helps, too, because "there's not the struggle to pass on food-price increases."