Why You Need To Call Time On Tesco PLC, Standard Chartered PLC & 88Energy Ltd!

Today I am taking a look at three high-risk Footsie giants.

Don’t bank on it

Sure, shares in emerging-market focussed Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) may have steadied over the past month, but I believe this represents nothing more than a pause in the stock’s multi-year downtrend.

Standard Chartered remains at the mercy of subdued commodity prices, markets where worsening supply/demand imbalances look set to keep the pressure on the bank. Indeed, Bloomberg reported just today that StanChart plans to shutter its office in Geneva in a bid to reduce its exposure to the battered raw materials sector.

Of course Standard Chartered is also aggressively restructuring across Asia in response to challenging trading conditions there. But the business is likely to experience much more pain in the months — and possibly years — ahead as its self-help measures take time to bed in, and economic cooling in its key territories worsens.

Expect fresh weakness

I believe those valiant investors hoping for a turnaround at Tesco (LSE: TSCO) should take recent price strength as an opportunity to cut and run.

The Cheshunt supermarket has seen its share value surge 38% from the multi-year troughs ploughed back in January. But there is no good reason for shrewd investors to have piled back into Tesco, in my opinion.

Undoubtedly newsflow surrounding Tesco has been more positive of late. Research house Kantar Worldpanel announced this month that sales dropped just 0.8% during 12 weeks to February 28th, a vast improvement from the 1.6% fall punched in the same 2015 period.

But a decline is still hardly cause for fanfare, and although the company has spent a great deal on initiatives like improving its pricing structure, Tesco still has to undertake a great deal of paddling just to stand still.

And Tesco’s recent decision to print fictional farm names on many of its own-brand products doesn’t bolster my own confidence in the grocer’s wider turnaround plan. This is nothing more than a token measure to ape the likes of Aldi and Lidl, and prompts questions as to whether the firm has the guile to overcome its current challenges.

With both discount and premium chains rapidly expanding in ‘the real world’ as well as online, and mid-tier rival Sainsbury’s also taking a swipe out of Tesco’s customer base, I do not expect earnings to tick higher again any time soon.

Pumping higher

Like Tesco, I reckon recent share prices rises provide good reason for investors to cash out of 88Energy Ltd (LSE: 88E). The fossil fuel play has seen its value rise almost 1,000% in less than two months on the back of cheery drilling data from its Alaskan Icewine #1 project.

88 Energy has peppered the market with positive updates during the period, and just this week advised that additional analysis has shown that permeability in two core samples “is approximately 20 times greater than the company’s pre-drill forecasts.” 88Energy is now also 15% through 2D seismic work, it advised.

Extreme share price volatility is nothing new in the oil sector, particularly for small explorers like 88Energy which operate on a relative shoestring. A disappointing drilling update can see shares in such companies collapse just as quickly as they have risen, meaning that the firm’s shareholders should be braced for a severe correction at any moment.

On top of this, 88Energy faces a race against time before tax rebates for Alaskan oil explorers plummet in the summer. In addition, the company still has to raise the necessary capital to continue its development work at Icewine. Given these factors, I believe now is a great time for investors to bank some their gains.

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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.