2015 was a hugely challenging year for Morrisons (LSE: MRW), with the supermarket recording a fall in its share price of 18.5%. Clearly, this was mainly due to the poor performance of the business during the period.
In fact, Morrisons is expected to report a third consecutive year of falling profitability, with its bottom line forecast to have fallen by 16% in financial year 2016. This means that, if met, Morrisons will have an earnings per share figure which is around a third of its 2013 level.
Undoubtedly, Morrisons finds itself facing a major challenge. It has lost a large number of customers who have ditched it in favour of low cost, no-frills operators such as Aldi and Lidl and, in response, Morrisons has been drawn into a price war which has hit its margins very hard.
Looking ahead, though, Morrisons could begin to make encouraging progress. Thats at least partly because its previous years comparatives are poor, but also because it has a simplified strategy through which to become a leaner and more efficient business. This, plus higher consumer confidence levels resulting from a real rise in household spending levels, mean that Morrisons is forecast to grow its bottom line by 22% in the next financial year. And, with it having a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 13.3, it appears to be on the cusp of much improved share price performance.
Also experiencing a tough year last year was Asia-focused bank, Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN). Its shares fell by 42% last year and its earnings are expected to have declined by 60% for the 2015 financial year. In response, Standard Chartered launched a fundraising, slashed its dividend and changed its management team, which is intent upon shoring up the banks compliance function moving forward.
With Standard Chartered being an Asia-focused bank, the concerns surrounding Chinas growth rate and Japan sinking into recession are clearly bad news. Therefore, short term falls in its valuation cannot be ruled out but, for longer term investors, it holds huge appeal as an investment. Thats because it is forecast to increase its bottom line by 28% this year and, with its shares having a price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.4, its performance in 2016 and beyond could be impressive.
Meanwhile, Monitise (LSE: MONI) fell by more than Standard Chartered and Morrisons combined in 2015, with the mobile payment solutions company recording a share price slump of 88% in 2015. Investor sentiment was hurt by a lack of profitability as well as changes in the companys management team which, judging by its 8% fall since the turn of the year, have carried over into 2016.
Looking ahead, Monitise may struggle to positively catalyse investor sentiment in the coming year. Thats because it appears to still be a long way off profitability and, while it is due to narrow its pretax loss this year, Monitise needs to convince the market that it is a viable business which can turn a profit. Until this seems relatively likely, it may be best to focus on other turnaround stocks which are already profitable and that also trade on low valuations.
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