Can last week’s losers Standard Life plc, DFS Furniture plc and Gulf Marine Services plc bounce back?

Royston Wild considers the bounceback potential of Standard Life plc (LON: SL), DFS Furniture plc (LON: DFS) and Gulf Marine Services plc (LON: GMS) in the light of a tough environment.

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DFS sofa

Image: DFS: Fair use

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Asset manager Standard Life’s (LSE: SL) 10% share price slump from last Monday-Friday isn’t difficult to understand after the shockwaves hitting its UK property fund became apparent.

Standard Life — like seven other major asset management providers including Aviva and Prudential — advised that it had halted redemptions on its £2.9bn fund. The sector is battening down the hatches in order to avoid an asset fire sale as investors head for the door.

The scale of market panic makes this a potentially-perilous time for Standard Life and its peers, a situation that could lead to massive outflows across the business.

At face value these risks may arguably baked-in to Standard Life’s share value, the firm dealing on a forward P/E rating of just 10.3 times. But I reckon the company’s uncertain outlook for the near term and beyond still makes it a gamble too far at the present time.

Sales set to slouch

An environment of sinking consumer confidence following the EU referendum has sent DFS Furniture (LSE: DFS) sliding in recent weeks.

Indeed, the sofa seller has seen its stock price erode 38% since the ballot boxes were closed, including a 12% dip between last Monday and Friday. And I believe further weakness can be expected in the weeks and months ahead as Britons put off spending on ‘big ticket’ items.

Research specialists GfK and YouGov have both released disappointing gauges in recent days, painting a picture of restrained shopper spend as Britons hunker down for a potential recession. As such, it’s easy to see sales of DFS Furniture’s goods declining sharply.

Like Standard Life, DFS Furniture deals on very cheap earnings multiples, the firm changing hands on P/E ratios of 8.1 times and 7.3 times for the years ending July 2017 and 2018 respectively.

But I reckon the strong possibility of significant earnings downgrades for this year and further out still makes the furniture flogger an unattractive pick for the moment.

Contracts corked

Oilfield services provider Gulf Marine Services (LSE: GMS) has also seen its share price decline during the past week, the firm suffering a 27% decline following a disappointing trading update.

Gulf Marine Services announced that two contracts had been cancelled by Middle Eastern customers, an environment of low oil prices prompting its clients to keep the lid on costs. As a result, Gulf Marine Services now expects EBITDA for 2016 to ring in at between $100m and $110m, down from $138.5m in the prior 12-month period.

And it’s difficult to see how oil prices — and with it Gulf Marine Service’s earnings performance — can significantly recover from current levels, as US producers get back to work again and a desperately-required output cut from OPEC remains as elusive as ever.

Sure, some would say that Gulf Marine Services is worth a punt at current prices, the firm dealing on a meagre P/E rating of 3.4 times. But its fragile financial position adds a further layer of risk for stock pickers. I reckon investors should steer well clear at present.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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

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