Standard Life Plc (LON:SL), J Sainsbury plc (LON:SBRY) and AstraZeneca plc (LON:AZN) are three of the shares least popular with the market's expert analysts.
When professional investment analysts take against a share, it can be worth taking a look for yourself. Is the company in genuine long-term decline and best avoided? Or could sentiment change and the shares rise sharply?
Here are three shares that investment analysts are least keen on.
Standard Life (LSE: SL) is a geared play on the investment markets.
In the last six months, the FTSE 100 has risen 8%. In that time, Standard Life is up 21.2%.
Rising stock markets have a triple-whammy effect on shares of a company like Standard Life. As share values rise across the board, Standard Life's funds under management increase. This increases management fee income. Rising stock markets attract new customers to Standard Life's managed funds. Increased profitability at Standard Life and strong markets inspires investors to award the shares a higher rating.
It is surprising, therefore, to learn that Standard Life shares are so unpopular with the analysts. The 4.4% dividend yield offers some incentive to hold and wait to find out if they are wrong.
In the last year, shares in J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) are up 9.9%. Not only has the share price grown but the company pays a good dividend, too. At today's price, the shares are forecast to yield 5% for 2013.
So, why is the stock so disliked? One common theme in the food industry is agricultural inflation. Due to worldwide demand for foods, the price of agricultural commodity prices has been increasing worldwide. That makes it tough for a company like Sainsbury's to make a good margin on its products, especially when consumer spending in the UK is under pressure.
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) (NYSE: AZN.US) is one of the FTSE 100's great income opportunities. The company paid $2.80 in dividends for 2012. This is forecast to increase to $2.85 for 2013. That equates to a 6.3% yield.
Many analysts are concerned over AstraZeneca's development 'pipeline' -- the schedule of new drugs that it will bring to the market. If AstraZeneca cannot demonstrate a packed pipeline, that puts a big question mark over the company's ability to make profits in the long term.
Earnings per share at AstraZeneca is expected to fall in 2013 and 2014. The dividend is forecast to hold up however, pushing the prospective 2014 payout to 6.4%.
One top investor has recently said he believes that the pharmaceuticals sector presents the kind of opportunity only seen once in a fund manager's career. That was Neil Woodford, manager of the Invesco Perpetual High Income Fund. Mr Woodford is one of the very best fund managers in the industry today. To find out more about this man's investment strategy, we have prepared a free report: "Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor". This report is totally free. Click here to get the report and start learning from this master investor today.
> David does not own shares in any of the above companies.