Down but not out? Rio Tinto plc, Rolls-Royce Holding plc and Centrica plc

Despite the fact that the company is one of the world’s largest mining groups, investors seem to have turned their backs on Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) over the past two years.

Over the previous 12 months alone, shares in the miner have declined by 29% excluding dividends, underperforming the wider FTSE 100 by more than 20%. This dismal performance may have put some investors off the company for good. But while Rio may be down, it’s certainly not out for the count.

Despite the tough operating environment in the commodity markets, Rio is better placed than most of its peers to ride out commodity market volatility. The group has some of the lowest iron ore production costs in the industry, with cash costs at some mines of less than $25 per ton.

As the price of iron ore languishes, Rio has been able to consolidate its position in the market as the group’s low production costs allow it to out-manoeuvre smaller peers. Moreover, Rio is cutting costs to improve efficiency, and the cost cuts will help accelerate the group’s profit growth when commodity prices recover. City analysts expect Rio’s earnings per share to fall 36% this year before ticking higher by 12% during 2017. The company’s shares currently trade at a forward P/E of 16.7 and support a dividend yield of 4.2%.

Making progress after a stumble

Rolls-Royce (LSE: RR) is another FTSE 100 champion that has fallen on hard times recently but shouldn’t be considered to be out for the count. After a slew of profit warnings shares in Rolls-Royce slumped to a four-year low at the end of 2015.

Eight months on and the company’s shares still trade at a depressed level despite the positive noises that the company has been making during the past six months.

For example, over that timescale, the company has made some progress in cutting costs and has identified several key areas where it can improve operational efficiency. All in all, Rolls-Royce is moving in the right direction and management has time to enact the changes as the group has enough orders in place to account for several years’ worth of revenue.

Rolls-Royce’s shares may be trading close to a four-year low but operationally the company continues to perform well. City analysts expect it to report a 58% decline in earnings per share for 2016, before reporting earnings growth of 30% for 2017. Shares in Rolls-Royce currently trade at a forward P/E of 24.5 and support a dividend yield of 2.2%.

Former dividend champion

Centrica (LSE: CNA) is one former dividend champion that could be down and out. You see, Centrica is struggling with its high level of debt, overbearing regulations, and increasing competition in the UK energy sector.With all of these factors weighing on the company, Centrica made the decision to conduct a rights issue last month.

Unfortunately, on the day the rights issue was announced, shares in Centrica slumped, and the company was unable to raise as much as it would have liked. The deal also attracted criticism because around half of the cash raised was earmarked for the payment of dividends to investors. With this being the case, it’s likely Centrica could ask investors for more cash once again in the near future. The company’s shares currently trade at a forward P/E of 13.5 and support a dividend yield of 6%.

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Rupert Hargreaves owns shares of Rolls-Royce. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Centrica and Rio Tinto. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.