Could BHP Billiton plc & WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC Be The FTSE 100’s Worst Growth Stocks?

Today I’m looking at two stocks that should suffer sustained earnings woes.

Stuck in a hole

It comes as little surprise that a fresh downturn in commodity prices has put a cap on resurgent investor appetite for BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT).

I’ve long argued that a combination of sickly demand and abundant production capacity has made recent rises in metal and energy values unjustifiable, leaving the likes of BHP Billiton in danger of a severe reversal.

The City expects the mining giant to endure a 92% earnings slide in the 12 months to June 2016, resulting in a mega-high P/E rating of 86.4 times. Given the firm’s lack of growth drivers I find this multiple difficult to fathom.

Brent continues to retreat from March’s peaks of around $42 per barrel, the commodity falling further in Tuesday business following news that US gasoline demand dropped for the first time in more than a year in January. And an OPEC-led deal to curtail production appears as far away as ever.

Looking elsewhere, iron ore — a market responsible for around half of BHP Billiton’s total earnings — is also backpeddling from recent highs of around $62 per tonne. And further weakness is expected as China’s steelmaking and construction industries struggle.

Of course BHP Billiton’s moves to mend its balance sheet through massive capex scalebacks and asset sales is a wise move in the short-term. But once commodity imbalances eventually improve, these measures are likely to seriously undermine BHP Billiton’s ability to capitalise on any likely price improvements. I believe the bottom line is likely to keep dragging well into the future.

Leave it on the shelf

While the news flow over at Morrisons (LSE: MRW) has been more encouraging of late, I believe growth-hungry investors should continue to give the battered supermarket short shrift.

Data released today by Kantar Worldpanel showed sales at Morrisons slid again in the 12 weeks to 27 March, this time by a chunky 2.4%. The Bradford company’s market share now stands at 10.5% versus 10.6% a year ago.

While the latest numbers are an improvement from the 3.2% slide announced in March’s release (and these figures take into account the hiving off of Morrisons’ M Local convenience stores) I believe its has a colossal task ahead to get the top line growing again.

Food deflation registered at 1.5% in the last three months, according to Kantar Worldpanel, illustrating the massive competitive pressures created as more recent entrants Aldi and Lidl continue to surge. And the problem is only likely to worsen for Morrisons et al as the budgeteers embark on huge expansion programmes over the next few years.

The Square Mile doesn’t share my bearish take however. Analysts expect earnings at Morrisons to explode 36% in the 12 months to January 2017. Still, with the business dealing on a huge P/E rating of 19.3 times, I reckon Morrisons — like BHP Billiton — is vulnerable to a huge correction should sales growth remain elusive.

But while Morrisons and BHP Billiton remain on course for prolonged bottom-line troubles, there are plenty of other stocks just waiting to supercharge your portfolio.

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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.