The Motley Fool

Will 2015 be better for these 3 lagging blue-chips?

2014 has been a hugely disappointing year for a number of blue-chip stocks. Indeed, some of the biggest names in the Australian retail and resources sectors have failed to keep up with the ASX’s performance year-to-date.

Of course, what really matters to investors is not how stocks have performed in the past, but which companies could turn things around and beat the wider index in the future.

With that in mind, here are three blue-chips that could have a strong 2015 and put the disappointment of 2014 well behind them.

Wesfarmers Ltd

Despite having a relatively strong year in terms of its sales figures that showed it is continuing to deliver upbeat results, shares in Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) have failed to keep up with the ASX during the course of 2014. Indeed, they are down 0.5% year-to-date, while the wider index is up 1%.

However, 2015 could be a completely different story. That’s because a continued low interest rate environment should benefit retailers such as Wesfarmers, while its gradual move into financial services could yield improved profitability moving forward.

While shares in Wesfarmers are sitting close to record highs, they may not have run out of steam. Indeed, with earnings due to rise at an annualised rate of 13.9% over the next two years, Wesfarmers seems to be worthy of its premium P/E ratio of 21.3. As such, it could see its share price perform much better in 2015 and beyond.

Woolworths Limited

While the share price of Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) is slightly behind that of its sector peer Wesfarmers (down 1% in 2014), it could also have a much stronger 2015. Certainly, its recent quarterly sales figures disappointed slightly, with them being up 3% year-on-year, but the company’s longer-term performance still makes it a highly attractive investment for investors.

For example, over the last five years, Woolworths has increased its bottom line at an annualised rate of 5.5%. And, with monetary policy set to stay loose, it would be of little surprise for Woolworths to deliver better than expected numbers in 2015 and beyond, with its shareholder-friendly policy that has seen dividends rise at an annualised rate of 5.7% over the last five years.

The result of this could be a better share price performance next year. While Woolworths is not exactly cheap, trading on a P/E ratio of 17, it remains a high quality business with a strong track record.

Rio Tinto Limited

With over 90% of its profit being derived from the sale of iron ore, it’s of little surprise that Rio Tinto Limited’s (ASX: RIO) share price has fallen heavily during the course of 2014. Indeed, it’s now down 12% since the start of the year, but next year could see a turnaround in its fortunes.

That’s largely because of a combination of improved prospects for the company’s bottom line, and also a valuation that appears to be overly cheap. For example, Rio Tinto is expected to increase earnings by 8.7% next year, which is impressive given the challenges currently faced by iron ore miners.

Considering this improvement, a P/E ratio of just 10.5 seems unjustly low and, as a result, Rio Tinto could see its rating expand upwards in 2015, with this offering the potential for it to beat the ASX next year, too.

So, while the likes of Rio Tinto, Woolworths and Wesfarmers have endured a disappointing 2014, next year could be a completely different story. However, there is another ASX stock that could prove to be an even better performer than any of them next year.

In fact, it’s recently been named as The Motley Fool’s Top Stock Of 2015 due to its potent mix of exciting growth prospects and super-low valuation. As a result, it could help you retire early, pay off the mortgage, and make 2015 an even better year for your investments.

Click here to find out all about it – it’s completely free and without obligation to do so.

Motley Fool contributor Peter Stephens does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

FREE REPORT: Five Cheap and Good Stocks to Buy now…

Our Motley Fool experts have FREE report, detailing 5 dirt cheap shares that you can buy today.

One stock is an Australian internet darling with a rock solid reputation and an exciting new business line that promises years (or even decades) of growth… while trading at an ultra-low price…

Another is a diversified conglomerate trading near a 52-week low all while offering a 2.7% fully franked yield…

Plus 3 more cheap bets that could position you to profit over the next 12 months!

See for yourself now. Simply click the link below to scoop up your FREE copy and discover all 5 shares. But you will want to hurry – this free report is available for a brief time only.