America's stock market has gone on a tear since COVID-19 shuffled the board back in March. From the pandemic nadir to Friday's close, the S&P 500 has soared an astounding 50%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 60%.
For investors who bought at the bottom back in March, this is great news. For investors looking for a place to invest new money, on the other hand, it poses something of a conundrum: With the S&P 500 now trading at a nosebleed P/E ratio of 28.8, do you "buy at the top" and risk overpaying, or do you sit out the rally and potentially watch the train (continue) to leave the station -- and leave you behind?
What would you say if I told you that you don't necessarily have to choose between either of those unattractive options? If you're willing to look just a little beyond U.S. borders, you can still find bargains galore in international stocks such as Banco Bradesco (NYSE:BBD), Banco BBVA Argentina (NYSE:BBAR), and Turkcell (NYSE:TKC).
$5 bargains in South America
For the price of less than a fiver, you can invest today in either (or both) of two South American banks -- both risky, as South American investments are known to be, but both profitable, and both cheap enough to perhaps justify a little bit of risk.
First up is Brazilian Banco Bradesco (NYSE:BBD). An NYSE-listed bank that costs just $3.51 a share and boasts a 27.5% net profit margin on its business, Banco Bradesco has been hit hard by the corona crisis. Profits were down 42% in its most recent quarter.
Now, that sounds bad -- but let's not forget to accentuate the positive here: Banco Bradesco remained profitable during the worst days of the pandemic, earning well over $600 million in net income in each of this year's first two quarters, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. At its current run rate, the stock is on track to earn about $1.3 billion this year, which would work out to a P/E ratio for the full year of 11.6. What's more, as Brazil's economy recovers from the pandemic, you can expect those profits to grow. Analysts following the stock currently forecast earnings per share of $0.43 in 2021 (up 43% from this year's earnings), and $0.59 per share in 2022 (up another 37%).
Here in the U.S., you could go blue in the face holding your breath waiting to find a stock that costs 11.6 times earnings, with an earnings growth rate in the 30% or 40% range. But in Brazil, Banco Bradesco is just sitting there, undiscovered and waiting to get snapped up.
South of south of the border
Meanwhile, just a few miles to Brazil's south, we find a second diamond in the rough -- and if Banco Bradesco looks cheap at 11.6 times earnings, then Argentina's Banco BBVA Argentina (NYSE:BBAR) looks like twice the bargain at a current year P/E of about 5.8.
Like Banco Bradesco, Banco BBVA is for sale on the NYSE, a beaten-up but profitable bargain at just $2.60 a share. But also like Banco Bradesco, Banco BBVA appears to be coping with Covid just fine. Earnings are down in the midst of the pandemic, of course. Profits declined 71% year-over-year in the most recent quarter. Still, the company's trailing 12-month results show a 13% net profit margin, and Banvo BBVA was profitable in both the first two quarters of this year.
With $86 million earned year to date, the bank has an earnings run rate of about $172 million or so. Divided into a $1 billion market capitalization, that works out to 5.8 times this year's expected earnings. Banco BBVA even has something that Banco Bradesco does not: a dividend. At last report, Banco BBVA was paying its shareholders 3.3% -- so even if it takes a while for its earnings to recover fully, Banco BBVA is paying shareholders to wait.
And now for something completely different
Priced at $4.77 a share, Turkcell stock just makes it under the $5 limit, so this one isn't quite as cheap as the South American bankers named above. Nevertheless, I think Turkcell is worth a look, because it offers advantages you won't find (yet) in the banking stocks named above.
Immediate growth, for one thing. Last quarter, Turkcell rebounded strongly from the corona crisis, posting 12% sales growth and 83% growth in profits -- which is pretty terrific profit growth for a stock trading at just 10x trailing earnings. What's more, run-rate earnings on this one look to be trending toward a bit over $500 million. If this is where Turkcell ends up at year end, its P/E could get as cheap as 8.2 or thereabouts, making it an even better bargain.
On top of all this, like Banco BBVA above, Turkcell is a generous dividend payer, paying out about 3%. And with analysts forecasting that earnings will grow at better than 33% annually over the next five years, there's every reason to hope that dividend will grow over time -- and the stock price with it.