The 12 worst investments of 2014, #5: Tesco

Decline in 2014: Tesco shares almost halved in value

See all 12 of 2014’s worst investments here

What happened?

In February, Tesco CEO Philip Clarke set out a strategy to overhaul the business. This meant refurbishing its stores and simplifying offers instead of going for all-out expansion. But Right Side writer Bengt Saelensminde wasn’t convinced.

For him, the convenience of Lidl and Aldi posed too much of a challenge. In June, Tesco released some dire sales figures.  A few weeks later, Clarke threw in the towel. Unilever veteran Dave Lewis was parachuted in to save the day – but he did not have long to settle in.

The coming of autumn brought with it the mother of all accounting scandals. Four senior managers were suspended and shares plunged 12% in a day. The Daily Telegraph reported that the “Tesco black hole may be larger than feared”.

Who are the losers?  

Warren Buffett, who dumped a third of his holdings, admitted he’d made “a huge mistake”.

Who are the winners?

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley went bottom-fishing in 2014, splashing out £43m on Tesco shares – a gamble that’s yet to pay off.

What happens next?

Tesco shares have been like one of its own-brand ready meals getting too close to the expiry date – the price keeps getting marked down, but you know that if you buy, you may live to regret it.

Bengt Saelensminde got out one of his favourite tools – Bollinger bands – in April, but couldn’t bring himself to tip it. And nor could Ed Bowsher – check out his video from the summer. MoneyWeek’s number-cruncher Phil Oakley is not writing off the shares falling below a pound.

What have we learned?

When you get to the top, the only way is down.

See all 12 of 2014’s worst investments here