Will Tesco PLC & BP plc Ever Return To Their Glory Days?

Today I am running the rule over two of the Footie’s fallen giants.

Revenue on the rocks

It is incredible to think that, as recently ago as 2010, almost one pound coin in every six spent by British consumers dropped into Tesco’s (LSE: TSCO) tills.

From starting the decade above 400p per share, Tesco’s failure to adapt to a rapidly-changing UK retail environment — allied with its colossal failures on foreign shores — has seen it shed more than half of its value since then.

And I see little reason for the grocery ‘dinosaur’ to turn around its fortunes any time soon. Tesco’s model remains reliant upon a strong performance from its out-of-town stores to deliver profits growth, outlets that are becoming increasingly out-of-fashion as consumers shop little and more often.

Competitive chaos

Tesco is not sitting on its hands, however, and a steady stream of store closures — combined with a renewed focus on the white-hot online segment — is clearly a step in the right direction. But those hoping for a rapid turnaround following Unilever veteran Dave Lewis’s appointment as CEO in 2014 are likely to be more than a tad disappointed.

Budget chains Aldi and Lidl have emerged as Tesco’s tormentors-in-chief, the troubles of the 2008/2009 recession resetting consumers’ expectations of what now constitutes good value. But who can offer their goods for the cheapest is clearly not the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ for British customers, as evidenced by the market share grab of premium outlets Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

Consequently Tesco seems stuck between a rock and a hard place. The chain is still haemorrhaging customers to the discounters despite the huge investment in profit-crushing price cuts of its own. And Tesco boasts neither the brand power nor product quality to take on its upmarket rivals.

Tesco’s troubles are only likely to worsen, as all of its rivals embark on aggressive expansion programmes both online and on then ground. I believe the former king of UK retail is set to slip further from its throne.

Crude calamity

Like Tesco, oil leviathan BP (LSE: BP) has also been the victim of a collapsing top line. Once the pride of Britain’s oil sector, a sinking crude price has weighed heavily on BP’s stock value in recent times, the share now dealing at a 40% discount to levels seen at the turn of the decade.

Much of this weakness can be attributed to Brent’s steady slide from above $100 per barrel in the summer of 2014, naturally. And while prices may have bounced from troughs of $27.67 back in January — their cheapest since 2003 — a combination of Chinese economic cooling and frenzied pumping across the globe is likely to keep the benchmark on its knees for some time yet.

The resultant revenues pressures have forced oil majors like BP to slash capex budgets and sell assets to ride out the storm. While wise in the current climate, these measures leave these businesses with little prospect of staging a stunning earnings rebound once supply imbalances improve and crude prices chug higher again.

On top of this, BP’s decision to sell off its clean energy operations over the past decade also makes it vulnerable to weakening fossil fuel demand as lawmakers strive to cut carbon emissions.

Given these factors, I believe that BP — like Tesco — could struggle to reclaim its former glories.

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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.