Is Now the Time to Buy Lloyds Banking?

LONDON -- I'm always searching for shares that can help ordinary investors like you make money from the stock market.

So right now, I am trawling through the FTSE 100 (UKX) and giving my verdict on every member of the blue-chip index. Simply put, I'm hoping to pinpoint the very best buying opportunities in today's uncertain market.

Today I am looking at Lloyds Banking (LSE: LLOY  ) (NYSE: LYG  ) to determine whether you should consider buying the shares at 45 pence.

I am assessing each company on several ratios:

Price/Earnings (P/E): Does the share look good value when compared against its competitors?

Price Earnings Growth (PEG): Does the share look good value factoring in predicted growth?

Yield: Does the share provide a solid income for investors?

Dividend Cover: Is the dividend sustainable?

So let's look at the numbers:

Stock Price 3-Yr. EPS Growth Projected P/E PEG Yield 3-Yr. Dividend Growth Dividend Cover
Lloyds Banking Group 45 pence -50% 1.8 N/A 0% 0 N/A

The consensus analyst estimate for this year's earnings per share is 2.5 pence (50 % fall) and dividend per share is 0p (0% growth).

Trading on a projected P/E of 1.8, Lloyds appears to be significantly cheaper than its peers in the Banks sector, who are currently trading on an average P/E of 13.4. However, Lloyds' P/E ratio and negative growth rate give a PEG ratio of less than 0. With a negative result, the PEG ratio cannot help with my analysis.

Lloyds does not offer a dividend, in comparison to the Banks sector average, which supports a 3.3% average. Lloyds has not offered a regular dividend since 2008, and as a result, dividend cover is not applicable.

Is Lloyds a suitable investment yet?
Personally, I do not like financial stocks. You see, I do not like the risks contained within bank balance sheets and the minefields they can become.

That said, Lloyds has been through a significant restructuring during the past few years, and changes are starting to show through. Indeed, Lloyds' underlying profit actually grew 29% in the first nine months of 2012. However, the group suffered a PPI provision of 2 billion pounds and disposal costs of 731 million pounds, dragging the group into a loss.

I also believe Lloyds has made significant progress in restructuring its balance sheet. The Tier 1 capital ratio is now at 11.5%, while loans as a percentage of capital have come down from 134% to 124%. Still, the group has 100 billion pounds of non-core loans on its balance sheet, equivalent to three times the group's market cap.

On the revenue side, total underlying revenues for the first nine months of 2012 were down 14% compared to 2011, and group net interest revenue was down 17%. However, some of this performance decline was offset through cost savings.

Overall, I believe Lloyds has made significant progress with its recovery. It looks like the business restructuring is going to plan with several divisions ahead of targets. However, I feel there are still significant challenges ahead, including extended PPI provisions and the possibility of customer redress over interest-only mortgages, which could be painful for the country's biggest mortgage lender.

So all things considered, I believe now does not look to be a good time to buy Lloyds Banking at 45 pence.

More FTSE opportunities
Although I feel now may not be the time to buy Lloyds, I am more positive on the FTSE shares highlighted in "8 Dividend Plays Held by Britain's Super Investor". This exclusive report reveals the favourite income stocks owned by Neil Woodford -- the City legend whose portfolios have thrashed the FTSE All-Share by 200% during the 15 years to October 2012.

The report, which explains the full investing logic behind Woodford's dividend strategy and his preferred blue chips, is free to all private investors. Just click here for your copy. But hurry, as the report is available for a limited time only.

In the meantime, please stay tuned for my next verdict on a FTSE 100 share.

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  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2012, at 3:09 PM, HKman wrote:

    You are missing the point with Lloyds bank. At the core of the company is a very profitable, stable (and very very boring - good!!) business - its retail banking franchise in the UK. It has a wide "moat" as retail banking is a notoriously difficult business in which to grow market share. Any realistic valuation of this business shows this core business is considerably undervalued and not reflected in the share price. Of course - we all know why - the legacy issues of HBOS, miss-selling etc. Eventually that will all be behind it - and in a few years (if you bought now) - you could have a big capital gain on an investment with a good yield.

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