Is It Too Soon To Buy Greggs plc, Glencore PLC And Anglo American plc?

In today’s article I’ll look at three stocks — a UK growth favourite and two battered miners — and ask whether it’s still too soon to buy, despite recent falls.


Glencore (LSE: GLEN) has outperformed all of its FTSE 100-listed mining peers so far this year. Glencore shares have fallen by less than 10%, compared to falls of 15% to 25% elsewhere.

One advantage Glencore does have is that its marketing division appears to have remained profitable, despite the collapse in commodity prices. Glencore’s traders are expected to have generated an operating profit of $2.5bn in 2015, with a similar profit forecast for 2016.

Glencore plans to reduce its net debt to between $18 and $19bn by the end of 2016, and expects to continue to generate free cash flow. However, these attractions are partially offset by the relative weakness of Glencore’s mining assets, some of which aren’t very competitive.

I’m tempted to say that Glencore is close to the bottom. However, with such high debt levels and very slim profit margins, Glencore could still face further problems.


In his famous guide to growth investing, The Zulu Principle, the late Jim Slater said: “There are few worse investments than a growth share going ex-growth.”

I think we need to ask if this is what’s happening to Greggs (LSE: GRG). The high street baker has been a growth success story over the last couple of years, during which its share price has doubled.

The firm’s January trading update said that full-year results would be in line with expectations and gave a neutral outlook for the year ahead. This seems to have triggered a sell-off. The shares have now fallen by 25% in 2016.

Investors had become used to Greggs beating expectations, but this now seems less likely. Analysts’ forecasts have also turned cautious. Earnings per share growth is expected to be less than 5% this year. That’s a big drop from 42% in 2014 and expected growth of 26% in 2015.

With Greggs still trading on a 2016 forecast P/E of 17 and offering a dividend yield of less than 3%, I think it could still be too soon to buy.

Anglo American

The biggest FTSE 350 faller so far in 2016 is Anglo American (LSE: AAL), which is down by 30%. This year’s slide means that the miner’s shares are now worth 80% less than they were one year ago. Ouch!

Anglo shares now look quite reasonably valued, if you base your views on the latest analysts’ forecasts. A 2015 forecast P/E of just 4.7 is expected to rise to 12.7 in 2016 as earnings hit rock bottom.

The problem is that this view — which may well be valid — seems to ignore the risks to shareholders from Anglo’s $13bn net debt. This dwarfs the group’s market cap, which has now fallen to just £3.2bn ($4.5bn).

Anglo is planning to sell a substantial number of its assets, but this could prove difficult with commodity prices at such low levels. I believe there’s a clear risk that Anglo will have to raise fresh cash from shareholders, as Glencore did last year.

Anglo is due to provide a trading update on 28 January. In my view, both shareholders and potential buyers should await further news before making any trading decisions.

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Roland Head owns shares of Anglo American. 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.