This Bank Stock Could Be a Doublehttp://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/03/13/this-bank-stock-could-be-a-double.aspx Jim Royal
March 13, 2013
TFS Financial (NASDAQ: TFSL) is a gem hiding in plain sight. While the market hates the uncertainty surrounding the company, you should love it, because it makes the stock a great bargain. This investment exploits a trick mastered by investing greats Peter Lynch and Seth Klarman.
That's why my Special Situations portfolio is buying shares in the bank on the next market day. Read on to see why this stock could easily double from here with the potential for dividends and buybacks.
TFS's credit metrics have improved greatly since the worst of the financial crisis, though there's still room for gains. For example, delinquent loans have been cut in half since 2009, and non-performing assets have trended down consistently since 2010. These levels are still elevated, meaning profitability should increase as the economy normalizes. The bank has continued to grow book value since 2009.
TFS expects to continue growing book value through its emphasis on adjustable rate financing. The company has moved much of its portfolio -- 48% as of December 31, 2012 -- to adjustable rate. That means that when interest rates rise, as they someday will, TFS is somewhat insulated from the destruction. In addition, recent mortgages have strong credit quality. On first mortgages originated in the 2012 fiscal year, FICO scores came in at 782 with an average loan to value of 63%, so high credit quality with borrowers having plenty of skin in the game. Those figures are similar so far this year.
How much would you expect to pay for a bank like this? At a minimum, I would say a fair price is tangible book value. TFS trades for about half that. It gets better, because TFS has a way to drive book value per share higher even if its banking operations don't improve.
The special situation
By law, banks have to maintain equity over a minimum level to be considered well-capitalized. For TFS, that means having risk-based capital of at least 10% of assets. TFS vastly exceeds this, with 22.8%. In fact, TFS has so much capital that it could buy every share that trades publicly!
On the most recent conference call, management joked about doing this very thing. Over the last few calls, they've talked about buying a sizable number of shares and how to return cash to shareholders. They are serious about this and have the history to back it up, having purchased nearly $300 million in shares -- more than 25% of the float -- in the two years after going public in 2007. A strong buyback could easily grow book value per share by 35%, which should translate into solid gains for shareholders.
In addition, there's the potential for reinstating a dividend, a move that would bring a whole new class of investors to the company.
Why does the discount exist?
First, virtually all the public finance sites, including brokers' sites, report figures on TFS Financial incorrectly. They'll say the market cap is around $3 billion