Shares of blue-chips BP (LSE: BP), Banco Santander (LSE: BNC) and Rolls-Royce (LSE: RR) are trading way below their highs. Could big gains be in store for investors buying today?


BP’s shares closed yesterday at 339p, giving a potential upside of 43%, if they were to regain their 484p high of a year ago when the price of oil was near $60 a barrel.

Of course, with oil as low as $27 earlier this year and currently under $40, the economics for BP aren’t great right now, and investor sentiment is also weak, due to concerns about how long a depressed oil price might persist.

BP boss Bob Dudley — who seems to have coined the “lower for longer” mantra of the current oil slump — has plotted “a clear course for BP for the medium term”, which includes a “commitment to sustaining our dividend and then growing free cash flow and shareholder distributions over the long term”.

A sustained dividend would give investors today a 7.8% annual yield, while waiting for a big rise in the share price when oil recovers.

Banco Santander

Banco Santander’s shares closed yesterday at 289p, giving a massive potential upside of 80%, if they were to regain their 52-week high of 520p.

The banking sector is out of favour, with investors concerned about global growth, the potential for defaults on loans in the struggling oil and mining sectors, and a host of other things. In the case of Santander, investors also seem particularly concerned about the challenging conditions in Brazil to which the bank has significant exposure.

However, Santander boss Ana Botín is sanguine (rightly, I believe): “The long-term story of Brazil is the growth and development of one of the largest emerging economies in the world. We are going to endure the current situation, be patient and be strongly positioned when Brazil resumes its upward journey.”

I like Banco Santander’s geographical spread for the long term, with its top three markets by profit being the UK (23%), Brazil (19%) and Spain (12%). And I like the bank’s current valuation: a price-to-tangible net asset value of 0.95, price-to-earnings ratio of 8.7 and cash dividend yield of 4.1%.


Rolls-Royce’s shares closed yesterday at 655p, giving a potential upside of over 60%, if they were to regain their 52-week high of 1,054p.

The company has issued an unprecedented series of five profit warnings over the last couple of years. The oil slump has hurt the group’s marine division, and there are some temporary timing issues elsewhere in the business, but also structural problems that need addressing.

However, Rolls-Royce remains a world-class business with some important constants. These are “the underlying growth of our long-term markets, the quality of our mission critical technology and services, and strength of customer demand for these, which are reflected in our growing order book.”

I was impressed by new chief executive Warren East’s presentation of the company’s annual results, and feel confident he can knock the group into shape. In due course, Rolls-Royce should return to its former earnings glory, and the shares look decent value, trading at just 10 times those earnings.

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G A Chester has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended BP. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.