LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) has started 2013 in fine form, with last week witnessing no fewer than three consecutive 52-week highs from the blue-chip index. Indeed, the peak of 6,090 achieved on Friday was the FTSE's highest level since February 2011.
Yesterday, however, the index dropped 26 points following a bout of profit-taking. Today, the market climbed slipped a further 11 points as the day's corporate news failed to spark much attention.
Of course, not every blue-chip name has been pulled higher by the FTSE blasting through 6,000. Here are three large caps whose share prices have languished of late and are currently flirting with their respective 52-week lows.
The shares of BG demonstrate how it can often pay to be patient when trying to catch a "falling knife." The gas major stunned investors during October when it admitted that production growth would be just 3% during 2012 and flat during 2013 -- well below the 6% to 8% projections the firm had previously forecast.
BG shares, which peaked at 1,554 pence last year, lost 20% on the day of the warning and currently trade around 1,032 pence. The recent low is 991 pence.
Annualizing BG's nine-month results suggests earnings could be running at something like 87 pence per share, which would place the shares on a multiple of almost 12. Later this year, BG will reduce its $11 billion net debt position as it sells various assets for $7.6 billion.
William Morrison Supermarkets (LSE:MRW)
It wasn't only Tesco that hurt investors backing the supermarket sector last year. The shares of William Morrison Supermarkets had reached 320 pence toward the end of 2011, yet they've entered 2013 at 255 pence -- the lowest price since mid-2009.
Morrisons' performance deteriorated last year. After the retailer reported 2011 profit up 8%, its subsequent half-year results showed profit up only 1% and like-for-like sales turning negative. A third-quarter statement in November then owned up to like-for-like sales down 2%, and yesterday's Christmas update revealed like-for-likes deteriorating further to -2.5%.
Still, Morrisons has promised to lift its dividend by 10% for the current year, thereby suggesting that buyers today can collect an 11.8 pence-per-share payout and 4.6% income.
Last year seemed promising for GlaxoSmithKline investors, with the shares of the pharma giant reaching 15 pounds for the first time since early 2007.
However, the price has since fallen as low as 1,314 pence and currently sits at 1,377 pence. Perhaps investors were not pleased with Glaxo's Q3 results, which were issued in October and showed sales down 8% and underlying earnings down 13%.
The figures also confirmed that Glaxo had bought 132 million shares for 1.9 billion pounds during the first nine months of last year -- equating to a repurchase price of 1,441 pence. Shareholders may not be pleased with the billions spent on shares which have since fallen in value, but at least any further buybacks will provide a higher yield. Glaxo's trailing 73 pence-per-share dividend now supports a useful 5.3% income.
One person who may be excited by Glaxo's low price is ace investor Neil Woodford, whose strategy of buying solid blue-chip shares paying dependable long-term dividends has delivered a nine-year run of beating the market. If you want to see how Woodford manages to outpace the FTSE 100, the free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at Glaxo and all of his other important holdings. Just click here to read the report while it's still free and available.
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