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5 Shares Plunging To 52-Week Lows: Centrica PLC, Standard Chartered PLC, Kier Group plc, The Weir Group PLC And PZ Cussons plc

2014 has been a very mixed year for FTSE 100 stocks so far. We’ve had some impressive winners, but a few are lagging badly behind. Here are five looking set to end the year on a low…

Centrica

Centrica (LSE: CNA) shares have fallen 15% over the past 12 months, slumping to a new 52-week low of 280.5p on 3 December. Its British Gas retail arm has been hit by the very mild UK weather, while plummeting oil prices have been putting the squeeze on its upstream operations.

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The next result is a forecast 26% drop in EPS this year, although if the dividend meets analysts’ current expectations we’ll be seeing yields of over 6% this year and next, albeit weakly covered.

Standard Chartered

For Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) it’s been a combination of slowing Chinese growth and its own weakness that has caused the damage, with its shares shedding 34% over 12 months to a low of 898.2p.

Standard Chartered’s operations in South Korea in particular are still struggling, and growing numbers of investors are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of the board. Could we be seeing a management shakeup in 2015? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Kier Group

The Kier Group (LSE: KIE) price has fallen 19% to a 52-week low of 1,386p, despite analysts predicting a 15% rise in EPS for the year to June 2015 — if accurate, that would put the shares on a forward P/E of 11.5 with a dividend yield of 5.3%.

Investors in Keir, one of the three main companies tunneling for London’s Crossrail project, don’t seem too enthused by the company’s plan to acquire Mouchel, the firm behind those black motorway traffic management screens. The price would likely be around £400m.

Weir Group

Weir Group (LSE: WEIR) has slumped to a low of 1,750p, for a drop of 12% over 12 months. The year actually started well, but shares in the Glasgow-based pumping engineer are sharply downwards since early September.

At Q3 time the firm lowered its full-year operating profit guidance by £38m to cover adverse currency exchange movements, and told us it intends to close five of its manufacturing facilities in 2015. Next year will be one of restructuring, with some one-off costs to deal with, but Weir says it should deliver annual benefits of around £35m.

PZ Cussons

Our fifth is PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC), whose shares have fallen 13% in the past 12 months to a low of 320p, despite an 8.1% gain in adjusted EPS for the year ended May 2014 and a further forecast EPS rise of 2% for the current year.

The firm’s latest quarterly update does speak of things being “challenging”, and with the shares on a forward P/E of over 18 and with a dividend yield of only 2.4% expected, the price fall looks like a justified correction to me.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Centrica and Weir. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of PZ Cussons. 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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