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Andy Brough of Shroder’s thinks UK market looks good value

Andy Brough, manager of the Schroder UK Mid 250 Fund, sounds pretty upbeat in this interesting commentary on the state of the market:

Not quite sure why they had to interview him in an oil sheik’s bathroom…Still, there is something reassuringly blokey about Brough, given that the man in charge of billions (and undoubtedly worth millions himself). Note though that Brough has sounded upbeat for a bit, even as shares have fallen further.Back in January he pointed out in The Telegraph that some people were certainly seeing value in companies at these prices – the financial directors at the leading companies themselves:

Well financed companies, together with directors, are taking advantage of the shake-out to acquire shares.

Among directors, there are 11 buys for every one sell, while companies themselves are buying back between £100m and £200m of their shares daily. On average, that is £2.25bn a month, which, put in context, is like removing the 100th largest company in the UK stock market every single month. Corporate activity, previously led by the venture capitalists, is now being led by companies themselves.

Four FTSE 100 stocks (ICI, Resolution, Kelda and Scottish & Newcastle) have all received cash bids that total around £20bn and buyers are now focusing on some of the smaller companies, with Whatman, GCap and Forth Ports seeing interest from potential buyers.

Are UK shares a bargain? Brough’s Mid Cap hunting ground has certainly fallen further and harder than the FTSE 100, and overall UK shares are on lower P/E ratings than in the US, where the market still seems to expect profits to hold up despite the credit crisis and housing falls.

GE on Wall Street sent the markets down with a profit downgrade last Thursday, and it’s very hard to believe it’s the last; Brough’s views do seem to assume we muddle through without the financial sector woes sending the wider economy into recession.

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