3 FTSE Shares Crashing To New Lows: RSA Insurance Group plc, Tullow Oil plc and Petropavlovsk PLC

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is looking less and less likely to regain the 13-year record of 6,876 points set in May any time soon, extending its gloomy mood with a 13 point drop to 6,668 by early afternoon today. Still, at least it’s a long way from its 52-week low of 5,752 and will hopefully never again fall so low.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about all of the FTSE’s constituents. Here are three from the various indices that are plumbing new depths:

RSA Insurance

RSA Insurance Group (LSE: RSA) (NASDAQOTH: RSANY.US) shares were doing quite well until recently — a bit behind the FTSE, but not by far.

But then on 5 November came the interim announcement that severe weather losses are going to be “materially above planning assumptions“, followed a few days later by news of “issues” relating to the firm’s Irish operations identified during a routine internal audit. That led to the suspension of three top Irish bosses, an independent investigation into what happened, and an estimated £70m hit on operating profit.

The shares plunged to a 52-week low this week of 102p for a 12-month fall of 10%, before recovering a few pennies to today’s 104.7p.

Tullow Oil

The year is going from bad to worse for Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW), and at 894p today the shares are barely above their recent 52-week low of 867p. That’s a fall of around 35% over the past 12 months for the primarily Africa-based FTSE 100 oil explorer and producer, with the shares nearly 50% down on their peak of around £16.

Although there are concerns that the firm’s $2.5bn in unused debt facilities might be cutting it a bit fine with capital expenditure expected to come in around $2bn this year, in its trading update on 13 November Tullow was upbeat about its prospects. It expects to add 200 million barrels of oil equivalent to its reserves this year, and reach record production levels by the end of 2013.

Are the shares oversold? They could be, but they’re still on a forward P/E of over 23.


If things are tough for black gold producers, they’re not going well for some who unearth the actual shiny variety either. Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG), the Russian gold miner, has seen its share price plummet more than 80% over the past 12 months to a 52-week low yesterday of 63p — the price is up a fraction from that to 63.4p as I write.

After earnings per share crashed by more than half last year, Petropavlovsk is expected to slump to a loss this year with no respite expected until 2015 at the earliest.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.