2015 has been a rather disappointing year for investors in AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN). Thats at least partly because its been something of a comedown since 2014 with the company not subject to the same level of excitement regarding a potential takeover. In fact, on the M&A front its been rather quiet for the firmwith the closing of a US tax loophole seemingly making UK domiciled stocks less appealing to their US pharmaceutical peers.
Of course, AstraZeneca has continued to engage in its own acquisition programme thathas seen its financial outlook transformed in recent years. And while positive earnings growth isnt yet a reality and isnt forecast to be so in 2016, over the medium term AstraZeneca is expected to become a company with an upbeat long term outlook thanks to its improved pipeline.
Furthermore, with AstraZenecas share price having fallen by 3% since the turn of the year, it now trades on a slightly lower valuation. In fact, it has a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 15.7. For a company with a rapidly improving pipeline, a sound balance sheet, as well as the scope to make further acquisitions, that appears to be a very fair price to pay.
Ready for growth
Also having a disappointing 2015 is engineering company GKN (LSE: GKN). Its shares have fallen by 13% since the turn of the year and this is at least partly due to concerns surrounding future demand for its products from Volkswagen after the emissions scandal. And with a potential slowdown in Chinese demand for cars, investors have been rather uncertain regarding GKNs long term future. This, plus a forecast 10% fall in earning this year, has caused investor sentiment in the stock to decline.
However, GKN is due to return to positive growth next year and while it does face a number of challenges, the reality is that demand for cars is likely to remain buoyant due to strong long term demand from emerging markets. While the Volkswagen story is definitely a setback, its unlikely to make a major impact on global demand for premium vehicles. As such, GKNs P/E ratio of 11.4 holds considerable appeal.
A painful2015 was also endured by investors in Premier Oil (LSE: PMO), with the falling oil price causing a large deterioration in investor sentiment. In fact, Premier Oils share price has fallen by 66% since the turn of the year and its realistic to assume that things could easily get worse before they get better. Thats because no ceiling on supply was set at the recent Opec meeting, and with US interest rate rises on the horizon the price of oil could continue to fall during 2016.
This, of course, would hurt Premier Oils profitability and could lead to further writedowns in the value of its asset base. However, with it now trading on a price-to-book value (P/B) ratio of just 0.35, it appears as though more pain is already priced in. As such, Premier Oil appears to be worth holding onto at the present time.
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