With many major financial stocks trading near 52-week highs and the notorious difficulty in getting a good read on the underlying value of their assets, this may seem like this is the last sector to go looking for value plays.
Yet financials encompass a big world, and there are some big players who have fallen out of favor here, making them candidates for a value/contrarian play, with a hope for a turnaround.
Here I will take a closer look at three of them, Britain's Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS), Germany's Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), and from the United States, Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C). Each of them are market leaders from different countries whose stock prices have seen better days.
Justice Department woes and a US giant
The first of these financial services company for your consideration is Citigroup Inc, which has been getting a lot of bad publicity lately over the Justice Department's probe into their mortgage securities. The company offered under $4 billion to settle, according to reports, while the Justice Department wants around $10 billion. Down from the mid-50's near the start of the year, Citigroup is now trading not far above the 52-week low.
$10 billion sounds like a lot of money, but with 3 billion shares outstanding and a $4.68 estimate for 2014 EPS, it's readily absorbed, and that's the worst case scenario. On the bright side, that $4.68 rises to $5.41 in 2015, putting the Forward P/E just south of 9, and trading at just 0.73 times book value, it's a potential bargain already.
That said, Justice Department lawsuits tend to scare away investors, so don't plan on a quick turnaround here. Keep a close eye out for panic sellers, however, and you could find yourself with a bargain long-term value play.
Barclays cuts its way to growth
Next up is British universal banking giant Barclays PLC, which is trading at the south end of its 52-week range primarily on bad news that doesn't adversely effect its bottom line.
Barclays has been taking a lot of flak for shedding workers in its investment banking division, but this reflects the company's efforts to pare down its less profitable divisions and become more focused on the lucrative Barclaycard and other promising avenues.The cuts aren't a sign of a struggling company, but rather of a growing one rebalancing itself.
Furthermore, the balance sheet is solid, and the analyst estimates are predicting strong growth, with the EPS growing from $1.02 in 2013, to $1.85 estimated in 2014, and $2.06 estimated in 2015. Both estimates would put the P/E at 8.6 and 7.8, respectively, an absolute steal for a company that is a market leader so many places around the world.
Trading at just 0.69 times book, the company is quite a bargain on assets, and its 0.47 PEG Ratio means you're buying steady long-term growth at a discount you'll rarely see elsewhere.
Even diluted this bank looks pretty good
Finally we come to the German global bank Deutsche Bank AG, a giant in the European markets and a big player everywhere else. The company's stock has fallen on hard times after two consecutive misses on earnings, which dropped the stock from a high near $52 to some painful 52-week lows.
To make matters worse, Deutsche Bank has announced intentions to issue another $11 billion in common stock, which would dilute the current shares by about 28 percent. That sounds scary, but is it really as bad as all that?
Maybe not. as Deutsche Bank's forward P/E puts it at a pre-diluted P/E of just 10.33, and it is trading at 0.51 times book value, putting its post dilution price/book in the realm of 0.65, still quite low. The estimated earnings going forward have been revised downward since the misses, and seem much more reasonable.
Bad misses and fear about dilution are both present and seem baked into today's discounted prices, while the positives of a growing company that is in the process of getting its financial house in order seem forgotten. The rebound may not necessarily come quickly, but the discount is definitely worth considering.
A lot of people have made a lot of money investing in the financial rally of the past few years, and while many of the big players are looking a bit pricey at this point, there are bargains to be found, if you're willing to dig into the numbers and look.
Barclays is my personal favorite of the three stocks outlined here, because while Citigroup and Deutsche Bank have plausible reasons to be down, Barclays seems to be a whipping boy for little reason.
Still, all three are oversold at this point, and while you can never underestimate the market's ability to keep driving down an oversold stock, the bargains as palpable for those willing to be the contrarian and wait for the rest of the market to catch up to them.