Is it time to forget Tesco plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc FOREVER?

Sometimes, you have to give up on a stock as the road back to respectability is too long, bumpy and uncertain. Why persevere when there are more rewarding journeys to be had? I sold these two three years ago and haven’t looked back. Can they enjoy a brighter future?

Tesco no-go

Remember when grocery chain Tesco (LSE: TSCO) was seen as an unstoppable global behemoth destined to consume the world? That was another time. Tesco’s share price is 60% lower than it was five years ago. Incredibly, it’s also 50% lower than it was 10 years ago. That’s right, in May 2006 it traded at 319p. Today you pay around 162p. The last decade has been thoroughly forgettable for Tesco investors, just ask Warren Buffett, who names it as one of his biggest mistakes ever.

Incoming boss Dave Lewis wisely aired all the dirty laundry he could find, so no one can accuse him of having mucky drawers. He’s abandoned misguided turnaround solutions, such as Harris+Hoole coffee shops and Giraffe in-store restaurants. The private jets have gone. Surplus food lines have been axed. Multi-buys put out of their misery. Store expansion plans shelved. Margins slashed in a bid to fight back against the discounters.

So where does he go next? In that respect, we’re all a little in the dark. Lewis has cleared out the dead wood, but how will he deliver fresh growth? Online? Non-food? Who knows? With the stock trading at 48 times earnings and no dividend, I would like to see that the man has a plan before I would consider buying Tesco again.

Right royal roasting

Few will forget how Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS) fell from grace in the wake of the financial crisis, with a share price that once topped £60 crashing to around £2 as the full horror of the banking crisis unfolded. What did surprise me, looking at a 10-year performance chart, is how the share price has virtually flatlined since then. At today’s 233p, RBS trades at exactly the same price as it did on 30 March 2009, more than seven years ago. Signs of progress have been completely illusory. Could the next seven years be just as bad?

The great RBS clean-up continues to drag on. Despite reporting an overall profit of £421m in the first quarter, it still posted a statutory loss of £968m after debiting toxic debris. This looks set to happen on repeat.

While RBS management is working to build a “strong, simple and fair bank for both customers and shareholders” and boasts a common equity tier 1 ratio of 14.6%, it can’t escape the past. The next set of results is likely to be tarnished by the costs of litigation relating to its historic US mortgage market activities, while even the divestment of subsidiary Williams & Glyn is running behind schedule. The lesson is that everything at RBS takes longer than you think. It won’t be a disaster zone forever, but it looks set to remain an investor wasteland for some time to come.

The future is bright, so don't waste time on yesterday's men.

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Harvey Jones 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.