In the New Year, with oil and commodities prices in the dumps, who would have tipped miners and oil explorers as potential 2016 winners? Or an online retailer with a massive P/E rating?
To be fair, Fresnillo(LSE: FRES) has something most miners don't, in the shape of recovering precious metals. Fresnillo is the world's largest producer of silver from ore and Mexico's second biggest producer of gold. The climb in the prices of those two metals has given its shares a big boost, and they're up 92% to 1,227p as I write.
After years of falling earnings, the gold and silver recovery is expected to boost earnings more than fourfold this year, and there's a further 66% rise pencilled-in for 2017. But the problem is Fresnillo's P/E rating -- it's as high as 60 this year, dropping only to 36 on 2017 forecasts.
That might be sustainable, but it would require silver and gold prices to remain high and soar even higher, and I don't see that happening for long. Precious metals prices have surely been boosted by uncertainty in China, uncertainty in other emerging markets, and uncertainty over the UK's membership of the EU. Once those fears settle, it's going to be hard not to see the attraction of shares again -- but it could take a little while yet, and Fresnillo could well come out on top this year.
Another false start?
If you look at the share price of online fashion retailer ASOS(LSE: ASC) over the past few years, you could be forgiven for not getting too enthusiastic over this year's performance. ASOS shares have put on an impressive 49% since their low in February, to 3,871p today, which looks great. But in April 2015 they were scraping 4,200p, and back in early 2014 they were as high as 7,000p!
That early surge had a lot of dot.com bubble characteristics about it, and after a few problems with expanding supply channels and with exchange rates cutting into margins (and with growth investors simply seeing sense), some reality was restored. And though e-tail does look set to eclipse the high street, ASOS's valuation still causes me to blink -- we're looking at a P/E for this year of 68, and still as high as 52 on 2017 forecasts.
ASOS could still end this year as one of the FTSE's biggest winners, but I see a lot of risk in the future growth that's already built into today's share price.
Oil and gas explorer Exillon Energy(LSE: EXI) was struggling during the oil price downturn, dropping as low as 62p per share in May. But since then we've seen a 54% recovery to 95.5p, as oil looks like it could be stabilising at around $50 per barrel -- and the longer the black stuff remains around that level, the more likely it seems that we'll see further rallies as the year progresses.
Exillon's production reports have been encouraging, with it producing around 15,000 barrels per day over the past three months. Exillon is profitable too -- it's been growing its earnings nicely over the past few years. And though we're awaiting updated forecasts, the latest share price puts Exillon shares on a trailing P/E below 4.
Even after the share price climb of recent months, Exillon is still looking cheap to me -- might we even see a multibagger by the end of the year?
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended ASOS. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.