As we emerge from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a weekend which sees millions of consumers around the world fight for a bargain, we can question where the best value opportunities are in the stockmarket.
Managers say value investing involves buying stocks trading at a significant discount to their intrinsic value, and there has been a lot of noise around whether or not this approach is making a comeback, particularly in the UK, which is home to an array of unloved stocks at the moment. But how do we know when cheap really means good value?
James Budden, director of marketing and distribution at Baillie Gifford, which is widely-known for its die-hard growth style, questioned what value even is in this week's Big Interview. He claims value stocks are underpriced as they are "cheap for a reason and appear to not have much of a future".
But value managers would counter-argue these reasons are not justified over the long term, and a company's cheap valuation metrics and low multiples of profits will turn around at some point in the future.
Certainly, well-known UK value investors such as Investec's Alastair Mundy and Fidelity's Alex Wright insist on patience, and if you look at their long-term numbers, that proves to be a virtue.
How do we know when cheap means good value?
Year-to-date to 19 November, Wright's £2.9bn Special Situations fund is down 7.7% and Mundy's Temple Bar investment trust is down 8.5%. But over ten years, the funds have returned 236% and 230% respectively.
On a larger scale, the UK itself might be deemed a value opportunity.
The FTSE All-Share is down 7% year-to-date, the IA UK All Companies sector was the worst performing peer group in terms of outflows for the second consecutive month in September, while a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey found the UK is the least favoured region across the globe.
However, over ten years the FTSE All-Share is up 181%, so it is plausible to say the current climate is only a curve ball in a long-term game and that investing in the UK now has the potential to produce some real value.
Some people wait for events such as Black Friday and the Boxing Day sales to pick up something they have been waiting for to reduce in price to do so. Moments like this do not come around often so we do not want to miss out, but we also want to avoid the ‘value trap'.
So how do we know if that cheap TV, sweater, company or even country trading on a discount to its true value will be a dud that falls apart or turns out to be a strong, long-term investment?
The short answer is we do not, as even with the most extensive research nothing is certain.