The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is suffering a modest fall today, down 22 points to 6,491 by mid-afternoon. But it’s still way ahead of its 52-week low of 5,487, and looking more likely to regain the high of 6,876 set in May.
But what of individual companies? Sadly, there are quite a few whose shares have been plunging. Here are three from the various indices falling to new lows:
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G4S (LSE: GFS) has done it again — slipped to a new 52-week low, that is. This morning the price dipped as low as 228.5p, a smidgen below its previous worst. There’s been nothing of note since the security firm’s last interim update in May, but with past problems still firmly in people’s minds, it’s a company that is very much out of favour at the moment.
But forecasts for the full year put the shares on a P/E of 11, dropping to under 10 for 2014, and there’s a dividend yield of over 4% predicted. So are the shares cheap? Well, I think they could be, but we do need to consider the firm’s debt, which stood at £1.8bn at December’s year-end.
Shareholders in maker of flooring products James Halstead (LSE: JHD) have had a tough time since the start of 2013, with the price hitting a 52-week low of 246p today — though thanks to a stronger 2012, that’s actually only about 8% down over the 12 months.
The firm’s first-half figures released in March actually looked reasonable, with pre-tax profit up 2.2% and earnings per share up 6.9% — and there was a 10% boost to the interim dividend. But the share price had been climbing strongly since 2009, and it was probably just getting a bit toppy — on expectations for the year to June 2013, the shares are still on a P/E of over 17.
If you want to see a serious crash, look no further than Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG). The gold miner’s shares have plummeted by more than 80% over the past 12 months, to hit an annual low of 73.5p today, and by about 90% over two years.
Forecasts now put the shares on a P/E as low as 3.7 with a dividend yield of 9% forecast, so why do punters rate the company so lowly? Well, it had $1.2bn of net debt on its books at the time of its Q1 statement in April, and with the price of gold falling, interest costs are covered less than 3 times by operating profits.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.