HSBC: A Global Edge

12/04/2014 10:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Khoa Nguyen

Investment Analyst, Investing Daily

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have disrupted the city’s businesses and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, observes Khoa Nguyen in Global Income Edge.

But the political turmoil gives investors the opportunity to pick up strong companies such as HSBC Holdings (HSBC), which has seen its shares slip 8% since the protests began.

The London-based bank was founded in 1865 as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. In 2000, HSBC began a dramatic global expansion by buying banks in various target countries.

Due to its sheer size and resources, HSBC had the ability to move into a market and use its clout to establish strong footholds.

Today, HSBC is the world’s second-largest bank, with roughly $2.7 trillion in assets. It serves more than 60 million customers from 6,000 offices in 81 countries.

Due to its beginnings in Asia, it has especially large exposure in the region, the world’s fastest growing. Business in Asia and Europe each represent about one-third of the company’s total operations.

These two regions are also currently driving most of the bank’s growth. Of the $56 billion loan growth in the most recent quarter, $28 billion came from Asia and $23 billion from Europe.

HSBC pays a 4.8% yield and is a quintessential Global Income Edge stock. It is firmly rooted in developed markets but has important operations in developing markets and it’s a cash-generating machine that allows it to pay a healthy, sustainable dividend.

Management is committed to boosting the dividend at a consistent rate. This is despite a major reorganization: Over the past three years, it has already cut 40,000 jobs and closed—or sold—60 businesses.

Its current payout ratio of 59% means that the company is able to safely cover its dividend and have earnings left over for growing its business.

If the company’s earnings and share price recover to pre-Great Recession levels—it traded around $90 a share then and has waffled around $50 since—expect management to reward investors with proportionate dividend hikes.

And, although you’ll be investing in a highly diversified industry leader, you won’t pay a premium for its stock: HSBC’s forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.3 is on par with its peer average. HSBC is a Buy up to $55.

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