LONDON -- The FTSE 100 index broke through the 6,400 level today before dropping back a bit to close at 6,395 -- more than 1,000 points above its 52-week low.
Not all companies have joined in the great rally. As a contrarian investor, I'm always interested in stocks that are out of favor with the market. Unloved shares have the potential to be some of the best long-term investments.
Mobile giant Vodafone Group (LSE:VOD) (NASDAQ:VOD), gas specialist BG Group (LSE:BG) (NASDAQOTH:BRGYY), and top Footsie gold-miner Randgold Resources Limited (LSE:RRS) have all sunk while the market has soared.
At a current price of 163 pence, Vodafone is down 15% from its 52-week high. This 80 billion pound titan is now trading on a forecast price-to-earnings ratio of 10.7 for the year to March 2013, and it offers a prospective dividend yield of 6.2%.
Of course, companies don't trade on these kinds of value ratings for nothing. Many investors were disappointed at the back end of last year when the board decided to use a 2.4 billion pound distribution from the company's U.S. associate Verizon Wireless on a share buyback program, rather than a special dividend. Vodafone's ordinary dividend is also up for review this year, while continuing revenue weakness in Europe -- particularly Southern Europe -- has added to the doom and gloom.
Nevertheless, for income seekers, that 6.2% yield from one of the Footsie's biggest megacaps has to look attractive -- even if future dividend growth is more modest than in the past.
At a current share price of 1,160 pence, BG Group is down 25% from its 52-week high.
Once seen as a rare FTSE 100 growth stock -- and rated accordingly -- this gas and oil group is now trading on a more humdrum forecast P/E of 14 for the year to December 2013, though it retains a skinny growth-stock yield of 1.5%.
Production setbacks and operating-cost issues, which led BG to lower its volume targets through to 2015, have cooled the market's love affair with the stock. However, BG's world-class assets -- estimated by analysts to be worth as much as 19 pounds a share -- and the possibility of a bid for the company have this stock on the radar of short- and long-term contrarians alike.
At a current share price of 5,510, Randgold Resources is down almost 30% from its 52-week high.
This highly successful gold-miner, which has a history of outperforming both its rivals and the price of gold, is now trading on less than 15 times forecast earnings for the year to December 2013, compared with a P/E in the 20s over the last couple of years. As is typical with gold miners, the dividend yield is negligible at 0.7%.
Rising costs and a few operational setbacks in the latter part of last year, combined with the weakening price of gold since October, have been the cause of Randgold's undoing. Nevertheless, if you're in the market for a leveraged play on the price of gold, Randgold -- with its proven management and substantial resources -- looks worth considering at the current price.
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