Can 1st Quarter Losers Barclays PLC (-32%), Shire PLC (-16%) & Ophir Energy Plc (-22%) Bounce Back?

Photo: Eszter Horvath-Papp. Licence granted.

Today I am taking a look at three heavy first-quarter fallers.

Drugs darling

Medicines play Shire(LSE: SHP) emerged from the first quarter as one of the FTSE 100's biggest fallers in often-choppy trading conditions.  Investor confidence has shaken in recent months, as concerns over the strategic advantages of Shire's $32bn takeover of biopharmaceuticals specialist Baxalta have weighed.

Still, it could be argued that Shire's share price under-performance since the start of 2016 leave the firm dealing at irresistible prices at present. The City expects Shire to enjoy an 11% earnings bounce in 2016, resulting in an excellent P/E ratio of 13.2 times.

I reckon this is decent value given the Shire's improving product pipeline -- the pharma play currently has 14 products in or around the Phase III testing phase -- not to mention the positive impact of rising global healthcare investment on future earnings.

Still sinking

Shares in oil explorer Ophir Energy (LSE: OPHR) have failed to reflect recent Brent crude strength, the benchmark having climbed back above the $40 per barrel milestone in March.

Market sentiment towards the broader oil segment remains fragile, as further swathes of disappointing Chinese economic data, combined with fading hopes for a co-ordinated supply cut by major global producers, have weighed.

Ophir Energy announced last month that it had incurred a $376m pre-tax operating loss in 2015 as a tanking oil price prompted massive impairments. On top of this, the company's capex-intensive operations also caused net cash to slump to $355m as of December, collapsing from $1.17bn a year earlier.

The City expects Ophir Energy to keep pumping in losses until 2018 at the earliest. With the supply imbalance washing over the oil market steadily worsening, I believe Ophir Energy can expect further share price weakness looking ahead.

A banking beauty?

The steady share price downtrend that kicked off last summer at Barclays(LSE: BARC) is showing no signs of letting up. The stock shed almost a third of its value during the first quarter alone, and remains on the cusp of hitting fresh multi-year troughs.

The entire banking industry has found itself on the rocks in recent months -- indeed, Barclays, RBS and HSBC were three of the FTSE 100's top five fallers during quarter one -- as the flailing global economy has again raised fears over the strength of the financial sector. Meanwhile, concerns over the consequences of a 'leave' vote in June's referendum has done the sector no favours, either.

The age-old problem of misconduct-related penalties has also remained a millstone around the sector's neck, with Barclays itself setting aside another £1.45bn for PPI-related claims during the final quarter of 2015 alone.

As a consequence, Barclays has shocked investors by electing to slash the dividend through to the close of 2017, more than halving it to 3p per share from 6.5p in recent years. But this may not be the end of the matter, as the number of PPI claimants is expected to shoot higher ahead of a possible 2018 deadline.

Fears over the future direction of the bank under new CEO Jes Staley have also weighed on the bank, with Barclays having announced the sale of its African banking assets, massive changes across its Investment Bank, and forthcoming measures to split the bank into two separate divisions in recent weeks.

The City expects Barclays to enjoy a 1% earnings advance in 2016, resulting in a P/E rating of just 10.5 times. While this suggests the bank's upheavals are currently priced in at current levels, I believe there is enough mud in the water to push the bank's stock still lower in the months ahead.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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