As 2014 draws to a close, Aussie investors will undoubtedly be looking ahead to better share price performance in 2015.
Of course, picking the winners for next year is no easy task and, after a strong 2013 when many investors were feeling bullish, the last year has perhaps not been quite what many of us were expecting.
With that in mind, here are three stocks from different sectors that have delivered contrasting share price performance in 2014. Is now the right time to buy a slice of them?
Suncorp Group Ltd
With the super-hailstorm that smashed Brisbane last week causing a considerable amount of damage, it’s somewhat surprising that shares in Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) have remained relatively steady in recent days. After all, the company is expected to have to pay out around $250 million as a result of the storms, with its reinsurance trigger set to be activated.
Clearly, the short-term news flow for Suncorp is not particularly positive. However, shares in the company still appear to offer upside potential in 2015. That’s because Suncorp is forecast to post massively improved earnings numbers in FY 2015, with its bottom line set to be 77% higher than it was in FY 2014.
If met, these earnings figures would put Suncorp on a forward P/E ratio of just 14.2. This is less than the ASX’s P/E ratio of 15.2 and shows that there could be upside potential for Suncorp in 2015.
Ramsay Health Care Limited
Having become the biggest private hospital operator in Australia and expanded into Europe, China is next up for Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) as it seeks to bolster its bottom line. Its joint venture in Chengdu could be the start of a highly profitable move for the company, as it seeks to tap into the seemingly insatiable demand for improving health care in emerging markets such as China.
Although Ramsay trades on a P/E ratio of 30.9, its valuation could go higher so long as it can keep delivering robust, reliable and very impressive earnings growth numbers. And, looking ahead to 2015, the company is expected to raise its bottom line by 21%, which is roughly three times the expected growth rate of the ASX. As a result, Ramsay could deliver yet more stunning share price growth over the next twelve months.
Fortescue Metals Group Limited
With news being released this week that Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) is taking a knife to its costs, this could be a sensible time to buy a slice of the beleaguered iron ore miner.
For instance, the company has reduced its capital expenditure plans and is also in the process of slimming down its management team, as it attempts to reduce its cost curve so that margins improve over the medium term.
Of course, if the iron ore price continues to decline, Fortescue’s share price could fall further than the drop of 52% that has been recorded this year. However, with China cutting interest rates (and the potential for this to be the first in a series of cuts), demand for iron ore could rise next year and this may prove to be a catalyst for improved performance in Fortescue’s share price. As a result, Fortescue could deliver strong gains during 2015.
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Motley Fool contributor Peter Stephens does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.
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