Are J Sainsbury plc, BP plc and Standard Chartered plc contrarian corkers or doomed duds?

Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered Bank

The troubles over at Sainsbury's(LSE: SBRY) were again underlined by industry experts Kantar Worldpanel this week.


The researcher revealed that the cost of the average shopping basket fell 1.4% during the 12 weeks to 17 July as the rampage of the no-frills rivals continued. With rapid expansion helping Aldi and Lidl print further chunky sales advances, Sainsbury's saw its own till activity slump 1.1% year-on-year, worsened by its plans to phase out 'multibuy' promotions.

The London chain's market share now stands at 16.3%, down from 16.5% at the same point last year.

Sainsbury's is embarking on a variety of initiatives to resuscitate the bottom line as brokers predict a third heavy consecutive earnings dip.

The chain is aiming to boost its multi-channel proposition by hoovering up Argos. But the diversified retailer is facing competitive headaches of its own. And the decision to expand its online presence in China is unlikely to prove a near-term game-changer for Sainsbury's.

I reckon the grocer's turnaround strategy remains fragile at best, and believe investors should continue to sit on the sidelines.

Oilie still slipping

I'm also less-than-enthused by the earnings outlook over at BP(LSE: BP).

The oil colossus saw underlying replacement cost profits slump an eye-watering 45% during April-June, to $720m, thanks to subdued crude values and refining margin pressures. And BP expects these troubles to persist in the months ahead.

This comes as little surprise given the structural problems facing the industry. Oil is back in freefall as supply concerns re-emerge, the Brent benchmark shedding a fifth of its value during the past month alone and back within a whisker of $40 per barrel.

And it's difficult to see black gold values gaining traction again as US drillers steadily return to work. Global inventories already remain bloated by plentiful supply from OPEC members as well as Russia.

I don't expect BP to bounce into the black until the world's major producers club together to curb output. And such hopes remain remote given the importance of market share in the current environment.

Banking bothers

This poor outlook also bodes ill for Standard Chartered(LSE: STAN), the company having endured huge losses by betting on commodity markets. But the state of raw materials markets isn't the banking behemoth's only concern.

Standard Chartered continues to be smashed by the economic cooldown still washing over the emerging markets of Asia, and it announced today that underlying pre-tax profits slumped 46% during January-June, to $994m.

While impairments dropped during the period, Standard Chartered's struggling top line remains a worry, with underlying income slipping by 20% in the first half to $6.8bn.

And the bank advised that "we expect 2016 performance to remain subdued" as GDP growth in key regions like Hong Kong, Singapore and the US slows, and a broader backcloth of low interest rates weighs.

With Standard Chartered's self-help measures also moving more slowly than previously anticipated, I reckon investors looking for hot turnaround stocks should give the banking play short shrift.

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