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2 Stocks We're Watching Right Now

By Motley Fool Staff – Aug 22, 2019 at 12:37PM

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Here's what the "Industry Focus: Financials" team is keeping an eye on.

Each week, Industry Focus: Financials host Jason Moser and contributor Matt Frankel, CFP, discuss two stocks they're watching. Here's why Moser has BGC Partners (BGCP 0.64%) on his radar, while Frankel thinks Wells Fargo (WFC -0.92%) is finally starting to look attractive.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Aug. 19, 2019.

Jason Moser: OK, Matt, let's wrap it up this week as always with One to Watch. What stock have you got your eye on this week?

Matt Frankel: I am turning the tide on this one. I'm putting Wells Fargo, WFC, back on my list.

Moser: No Bank of America?

Frankel: Well, they're still my favorite. They're still the biggest bank stock I actually own. But Wells Fargo is getting too cheap to ignore at the current price of around $45 a share. That means their buyback program alone is going to amount to about almost 12% of the outstanding shares this year alone. They're buying back stock hand over fist. The dividend yield's up to 4.5%, which is very high for a bank stock. What's really interesting, if you look at them on a price-to-book valuation, which is how I generally value bank stocks, you have to look all the way back to 2011 to find a price to book that is where it is now for Wells Fargo. If you look at, say, Bank of America, you only have to go back to 2017 to find the same valuation. In JPMorgan's case, they hit their current price to book back in 2018. Wells Fargo is trading at its lowest valuation in eight years. Sure, there's some reason for it with the scandals and everything. But does that mean it needs to be trading at the same valuation right as we were coming out of the crisis? Probably not. There's a point where most stocks become attractive, and Wells Fargo is reaching it in my mind.

Moser: Yeah, I like that. There's always tomorrow. Maybe they're getting their act together. And what's the ticker there?

Frankel: Sorry, the ticker is WFC.

Moser: OK, good. For me, this is a shout out to one of our listeners, Joseph Crebelli, who sent an email asking about this company, BGC Partners, BGCP. BGC Partners is a financial services business. It primarily focuses on trade execution and broker dealer services. The markets they serve primarily are wholesale financial energy insurance. Clients include many of the world's largest banks. Essentially, they're helping through this brokerage, moving a lot of money around. Most of their revenue is generated by commissions. That can be one of the challenges in these types of brokerage businesses, that commissions tend to come down unless you can offer some type of a specialized service there, a competitive advantage. It is worth noting, their commissions essentially doubled from 2014 to 2018. Total revenues, close to that, as well. Now, that adjusts for a few transactions along the way, spinoffs and whatnot. But they believe that their technology, they have a hybrid brokerage platform that can accommodate for some more complex and less liquid markets. That's what they consider to be one of their advantages. Now, there's some costs that come with that. But it's still a small-cap company, so there could be the potential there for some interesting growth. I think one of the things that maybe holds potential investors back, it does have a bit of a convoluted ownership structure. For example, Cantor Fitzgerald owns a bit more than 13% of the shares outstanding, and essentially owns the majority voting power of the company via Class B shares. That's something at least to keep in mind there. But an interesting business in certainly a market that is not going to be going away. We've seen with some other businesses like this, it can be a very big market opportunity as well. So, one I'll learn a little bit more about in the coming weeks. Thanks for the push there, Joseph!

Jason Moser has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of BAC. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
$41.85 (-0.92%) $0.39
BGC Partners Stock Quote
BGC Partners
$3.94 (0.64%) $0.03

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