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The FTSE 100 has escaped this year’s crash yet it’s packed with bargain stocks

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Given all the uncertainty, the FTSE 100 really should have crashed this year. The US has plunged into a bear market, yet the UK’s blue-chip index has remained remarkably solid.

The S&P 500 is down 15.20% so far this year, despite that summer rally. Yet the FTSE 100 has slipped just 2.05% year-to-date. After accounting for dividends, investors are slightly ahead.

The FTSE 100 has held firm in troubled times

The FTSE 100 and S&P 500 are clearly very different markets. US shares enjoyed a storming decade, as tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla and others rocketed.

With no tech titans to drive it along, the FTSE 100 fell out of favour. Investors thrilled by tech, crypto and meme stocks viewed UK blue-chips as stodgy and old school.

Growth stock mania was turbo-charged by endless fiscal and monetary stimulus. That era is now over. As inflation rockets, the US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England are tightening fast. The flow of cheap money has dried up.

Inflation is tougher on stocks that promise growth tomorrow as anxious investors prioritise income today instead. Enter the FTSE 100.

Investors are learning to appreciate the charm of stodgy and old school UK stocks all over again. Many hail from traditionally defensive sectors such as defence, utilities, banking, insurance and healthcare. These sell goods and services that people still need in times of trouble (maybe even more than before).

Some FTSE 100 companies now offer incredibly generous yields, including fund manger Abrdn, which yields 9.74%, Taylor Wimpey (8.14%) and Legal & General Group (7.26%). 

Plenty more stocks on the index offer steady yields of 5% or 6%, giving investors steady rewards in volatile times. The FTSE 100 also looks relatively cheap, trading at around 14 times earnings. Despite this year’s troubles, the S&P 500 is still twice as expensive, trading at 30.43 times earnings, as measured by Shiller.

Low valuations and high dividends help

Of course, dividends are not guaranteed and may be cut if the company hits a rough patch. The FTSE 100 has delivered little share price growth lately, and trades just 1.88% higher than five years ago. Over the same period, the S&P 500 has climbed a vastly more impressive 62.68%.

The UK also has a raft of economic problems, not least a collapsing pound, but these can actually work in favour of the lead index. That’s because companies within it generate three quarters of their earnings overseas. They are now worth more once converted back into sterling. That also explains why the index has done so well. It does not necessarily correlate with the wider performance of the UK economy.

FTSE 100 shares have a starring role in my portfolio, and I think they still look good value right now. I will continue to buy shares listed on the index.

The post The FTSE 100 has escaped this year’s crash yet it’s packed with bargain stocks appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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Harvey Jones doesn’t hold any of the shares mentioned in this article. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla. 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. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.