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Why Aviva could appeal to contrarian value investors

13th Jul by Michael Green

Contrarian value investors are always on the look-out for shares that the market has overlooked. In times of economic uncertainty - when stock prices become erratic - good quality stocks can become cheaper. The question is whether Aviva (LON:AV.) is currently one of them.   

Buying good quality stocks at cheap prices is a tried and trusted stock market strategy - but it isn't always easy to tell the difference between a genuine bargain and a value trap. Often, it's the quality of the stock makes all the difference.

The Aviva share price is currently trading at 286.9. And the good news is that it scores well against some important financial and technical measures. It's a large-cap share with strong exposure to two very influential drivers of investment returns: high quality and a relatively cheap valuation.

To understand where that shows up, here's a closer look:

GET MORE DATA-DRIVEN INSIGHTS INTO LON:AV. »

Buying quality at a fair price

Good quality stocks are loved by the market because they're more likely to be solid, dependable businesses. Profitability is important, but so is the firm's financial strength. A track record of improving finances is essential.

One of the stand out quality metrics for Aviva is that it passes 7 of the 9 financial tests in the Piotroski F-Score. The F-Score is a world-class accounting-based checklist for finding stocks with an improving financial health trend. A good F-Score suggests that the company has strong signs of quality.

While quality is important, no-one wants to overpay for a stock, so an appealing valuation is vital too. With a weaker economy, earnings forecasts are unclear right across the market. But there are some valuation measures that can help, and one of them is the Earnings Yield.

Earnings Yield compares a company's profit with its market valuation (worked out by dividing its operating profit by its enterprise value). It gives you a total value of the stock (including its cash and debt), which makes it easier to compare different stocks. As a percentage, the higher the Earnings Yield, the better value the share.

A rule of thumb for a reasonable Earnings Yield might be 5%, and the Earnings Yield for Aviva is currently 107.9%.

In summary, good quality and relatively cheap valuations are pointers to those stocks that are some of the most appealing to contrarian value investors. It's among these shares that genuine mispricing can be found. Once the market recognises that these quality firms are on sale, those prices often rebound.

What does this mean for potential investors?

Finding good quality stocks at cheap prices is a strategy used by some of the world's most successful investors. But be warned: these factors don't guarantee future returns and we've identified some areas of concern with Aviva that you can find out about here.

Alternatively, if you'd like to find more shares that are showing signs of having strong quality and value, just come and take a look at this Quality & Value screen.

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