Which will double the quickest, Premier Oil plc, Aberdeen Asset Management plc or Rio Tinto plc?

Premier Oil
Premier Oil

If you're seeking out shares with the potential to double in price in a relatively short time, one place to look is among those that are currently in a slump. Of course, some are down there for good reason and it can be very hard for them to come back. But if it's external factors that are causing the downturn, then a recovery might well be on the cards.

Cheap oil

Look at Premier Oil(LSE: PMO) for example. Premier Oil shares are down 80% over the past two years, to 75p, and it's been entirely due to the slump in the price of oil -- well, coupled with Premier's debt pile which could cripple it in the absence of an oil recovery.

Yet since January's low of 19p (when trading was suspended pending the announcement of Premier's purchase of E.ON's North Sea assets), the price has almost quadrupled. Is there a chance of a further doubling? I reckon there is, which is why I bought some (admittedly at 99p, so I have some way to go). In fact, if the oil price recovery continues and Premier can service its debts, I can see a reasonable chance of a doubling in the next 12 months.

On the debt front, Premier recently told us it had "significant liquidity with cash and undrawn bank facilities of circa $750m" and was in talks about possibly bending its covenants a little should it prove necessary. And with oil creeping back up towards $50 a barrel ($49.24 for Brent Crude as I write), the dangerous times for Premier Oil are surely receding.

Emerging market mayhem

Shares in investment manager Aberdeen Asset Management(LSE: ADN) have crashed by 43% since a high in April last year, to 288p, and it's all down to investors' fears over the emerging markets in which Aberdeen stashes a lot of its cash. That's led to 12 quarters in a row of net outflows, and at the halfway point the company reported a 20% drop in revenue and a 40% fall in underlying pre-tax profit.

The interim dividend remains unchanged, and the 7.1% yield forecast for the year to September would not be covered by predicted earnings. So could a cut be on the cards? It could indeed be, but the City is expecting the current year to be the bottom for Aberdeen, with a pick up in earnings penciled in for 2017.

I can see Aberdeen Asset Management being around the bottom of a cycle, and a few years of improving economics in the developing world could mean we'll be looking back at a solid recovery in a few years time.

Rocky path

Rio Tinto(LSE: RIO) has certainly suffered from the slide in metals and minerals prices over the past few years, with Rio shares having lost more than 50% over five years, to stand at 1,960p. But the price has actually recovered by 24% since January's low, so could could the commodities cycle be turning and is the future for Rio Tinto shares looking brighter?

Once again, though there's a fall in earnings (of 35%) expected this year, the analysts are predicting a return to growth in 2017, with reduced dividends still offering yields of 3.5% to 4%.

The main risk is that Rio's increasing iron ore production will find no takers, especially with Chinese demand stagnating. But the price of the stuff has been recovering since December, and Rio enjoys the double benefits of low production costs and relatively modest debts. I see it as the miner most likely to do well from an up-tick in commodities prices.

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Alan Oscroft owns shares of Premier Oil. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Aberdeen Asset Management and Rio Tinto. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.