Why Rolls-Royce Holding plc, BHP Billiton plc and FirstGroup plc may be great recovery prospects

If you’re the kind of contrarian investor who looks for recovery prospects and searches for good ones to buy when everyone is selling, well the EU referendum has given you a whole load more candidates to choose from! Today I’m looking at three that were already down, and wondering if they’re even better bargains now.

No Brexit problem?

I said last week that Rolls-Royce Holdings (LSE: RR) shares could be hurt if we voted to leave the EU, after the company’s bosses wrote to employees to point out the difficulties that could lie along exit route and that it would put a lot of the firm’s investment decisions on hold.

But the vote went the wrong way (for the company, based on those fears), and… nothing happened. In fact, since the close of play on referendum day, Rolls-Royce shares have actually picked up by about 3% to 665p, leaving the price up 28% from its 2016 low point in February. Full-year results provided part of this year’s boost, with the company talking of its growing order book and sounding upbeat about its turnaround prospects.

There’s going to be a big drop in earnings this year for sure, but analysts are predicting a strong EPS recovery in 2017 with the firm’s slashed dividend set to return to progressive increases. There’s a 2017 P/E of 20 suggested, but if it really is the start of the recovery that could be good value.

Digging dirt

The mining sector is one I’d expect to be pretty resistant to things like the UK’s EU membership — they just dig up the stuff and sell it internationally at the open market rate. And it does seem that way as shares in BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT), for example, dipped but quickly recovered. At 874p they’re actually up since the momentous day. In fact, it’s the kind of movement that can barely be seen against the usual ups and downs in the price.

Since their low in January, BHP shares are now up 45%, even though prices of metals and minerals haven’t really started a recovery yet. But with oil on the way back up and the latest Chinese figures looking better than expected, we could well be near the low point in the commodities demand cycle.

There’s no uptick in earnings for BHP Billiton expected until 2017, but it should be a solid resurgence if the analysts are right.

Transport on the mend

FirstGroup (LSE: FGP), which runs rail and bus services in the UK and school bus and other services in the US, should also be pretty impervious to any adverse effects from uncertainties over the EU single market, I’d have thought. But surprisingly, the shares are down 10% since the event, to 92.6p.

FirstGroup’s results posted a couple of weeks ago appeared to cement the company’s turnaround, which it has been pursuing since a rights issue was needed in 2013. With “significantly increased cash generation expected in 2016/17,” and forecasts putting the shares on a P/E of only around 7.5 for the current year, dropping to 6.5 on March 2018 predictions, I just don’t see how FirstGroup can not be a great recovery candidate. That’s especially so as those figures give us PEG vales of only around 0.4 to 0.5, and there’s a recovering dividend expected to yield 4.5% by 2018.

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Alan Oscroft 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.