LONDON -- I've used a market statistics package to find FTSE 100 companies trading within 11% of their low for the year. The fact that I have had to set my margin so wide demonstrates how strong the market has been.
So, will these companies bounce back, or are they entering a period of decline?
Recent first-half results from Imperial Tobacco were not pretty. 6% fewer cigarettes were sold than in the same period for 2012. This led to a 3% fall in revenues. In turn, adjusted operating profits were down 7%. Adjusted earnings per share came in 3% lower. Amid all the gloom, there was one silver lining: The dividend was increased 11%.
This leaves the shares trading on 11 times forecast earnings per share for 2013. The dividend increase means that the expected yield is now 5%. 7.2% of EPS growth is forecast for 2014. This is expected to be met by a 10.1% dividend increase. Imperial Tobacco shares today trade on a 2014 P/E of 10.3, with a forecast yield of 5.5%.
Following those results, I expect analysts to reduce their 2014 forecasts. If sales and profits trends continue, the shares may have significant falls ahead of them.
Miner Anglo American is hurting from the fall in metals prices. So far this year, the price of gold is down 14%. Silver has fallen 22%. Falls have not been confined to the precious metals. Prices of base metals such as copper and iron have also fallen heavily on the commodities markets.
This time last year, analysts were expecting Anglo American to deliver $5.30 of EPS in 2013. That consensus estimate is now down to $2.16. The fall in expectations has been met by a 27.3% share price decline.
Anglo American is forecast to pay dividends of $0.88 per share for 2013, rising to $0.92 next year. This does not look enough to stop the fall. At today's price, the expected yield is 3.5%, only slightly better than the payout from the average FTSE 100 share.
Just as Anglo American has suffered from falling commodities prices, so has oil explorer Tullow Oil . In the three months, as the price of oil has fallen 12%, Tullow shares are off nearly 14%.
This has led analysts to reduce their profit expectations. This time last year, the City had pencilled in $1.00 of EPS for 2013. This is now down to $0.74.
If Tullow's share price is to turn around, either the price of oil needs to pick up or the company must make new discoveries. Tullow and its shareholders will be hoping that the company's ambitious drilling schedule in Kenya and Ethiopia can emulate the success that the company enjoyed in Uganda. Tullow is investing heavily, acquiring more seismic information on its East African acreage. Management have identified 120 prospects and leads in the area and hopes for a high impact drilling campaign.
Although Pearson may be best known to Motley Fool readers as publisher of the Financial Times, the company's biggest division is educational services. While education is bringing in the most money, the publishing division's transition from print to digital sales is crucial to Pearson's profitability.
The most recent trading statement from the company confirmed that profits for 2013 are expected to come in at around the same level as last year. This puts the shares on a 2013 P/E of 15.2, with an expected dividend yield of 4%.
In the last three months, 2014 profit forecasts have been cut 6%. Unless Pearson can get back to earnings growth, then I would expect further share price falls.
Pearson currently trades at around the same rating as the average FTSE 100 share.
Like Tullow and Anglo American, miner Antofagasta can do little about the price that it achieves for its products. The effect of falling commodity prices has been the same: a decline in profit expectations and a slump in the company's share price.
In the last 12 months, earnings forecasts for 2013 have fallen from $1.77 per share to $1.14 per share. This has led to a 12.2% share price fall.
The numbers for the year to date are even worse. So far in 2013, Antofagasta shares are down 31%. That's a huge underperformance versus the FTSE 100, which is ahead 12.3% since the turn of the year.
In an environment where commodities prices are falling so quickly, profit forecasts for a price-taking company like Antofagasta cannot be relied upon. Furthermore, the historic dividend yield of 1.5% is not going to be enough to prevent further big falls if economic conditions stay tough.
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