3 FTSE Shares Crashing to New Lows

LONDON -- With the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) trading just eight points down at 5,903 this afternoon, there's little chance the index will be seen anywhere near its 52-week low of 5,075 anytime soon. In fact, the FTSE is only a little short of its year-high of 5,989.

But the same cannot be said about some companies from the various FTSE indexes. But among depressed shares, bargains are often found. Here are three names plumbing the depths and hitting fresh lows, which you might consider to be too cheap.

Morrison (LSE: MRW.L  )
You might be surprised to hear it, but Wm Morrison Supermarkets is trading close to its 52-week low. The shares hit their lowest point of 261 pence in June before recovering, but they have slid back again, dipping as low as 267 pence on Tuesday before pulling up a little. We know that Tesco is still depressed from its poor Christmas season, but why is Morrison struggling?

It's hard to say, as the City is forecasting a rise in earnings per share for the full year to January 2013, with a dividend yield near 4.5% in the cards and rising to 4.8% for the following year. If that doesn't make a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10 look cheap, I don't know what does.

FirstGroup (LSE: FGP.L  )
We know what has hit FirstGroup of late: the cancellation of its new West Coast Main Line contract after the bidding process was scrapped. The shares have been trading close to their 52-week low of 184 pence this week, though they're up a bit at 190 pence today. Is the depressed price fair, or are the shares oversold?

Well, the company must be worth at least what it was before the rail franchise fiasco, mustn't it? Current forecasts put the shares on a prospective P/E of only 6.3, with a massive 13% dividend yield forecast for the year to March 2013. However, that payment would barely be covered by earnings, and there must be a good chance the forecasts are optimistic. Still, with a valuation so low, there is room for a still-attractive yield, should there be a significant dividend cut.

Volex (LSE: VLX.L  )
Meanwhile, looking at the small-cap end of the market, Volex is having a dreadful time. The maker of connectors, wiring assemblies, and related products saw its shares fall off a cliff in September when the firm issued a profit warning due to an unexpected fall in demand from one of its biggest customers.

Since then, the shares have fallen further, reaching a new 163-pence low today. So what is the future looking like? Well, with ongoing fears that we might not have heard the worst, the firm's forward P/E rating of 7.6 is perhaps understandable. But there's still a well-covered, if modest, dividend of 2.5% expected.

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Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.


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