Turnaround for Banco Santander?

11/24/2015 10:00 am EST


Briton Ryle

Editor, The Wealth Advisory

As a rule, I don’t recommend many foreign stocks. This holding in our model portfolio—the biggest bank in Spain and Latin America—is a notable exception, explains Briton Ryle, editor of The Wealth Advisory.

Banco Santander (SAN) has 20% of its assets invested in Spain. With robust economic growth predicted for the near future, this former economic pariah is poised for a turnaround and SAN is well positioned to profit.

Latin America and other emerging markets account for roughly half of Santander’s profits. By country, Brazil accounted for 26% of total profit, with Mexico providing 13% and Chile 5%. The US and UK account for 12% of profits each.

With a price-to-book ratio of less than 1, Banco Santander is among the cheapest large banks in the world.

The forward P/E of 8.5 is also an attractive 30% discount to the average banking stock. A year from now, Banco Santander could trade for 1.5 times book value or higher.

And it’s been growing assets quickly, last quarter alone cash increased by a whopping 83% (to 123.9 billion euros) and over the last year, net assets have grown 13% to 1.34 trillion euros.

Not only that, but earnings for 2014 were up 33% over the previous year. Full-year 2015 earnings estimates have risen to $0.65 and for 2016, Santander should hit $0.78. Plus, it pays a 4% dividend.

But despite all this, Banco Santander has been setting new 52-week lows for the better part of the past two months.

Part of the reason is certainly Brazil, where the economy has tanked and corruption scandals continue to rock the local markets. But the bank is still very profitable...even in Brazil.

In light of the dividend cut at the start of the year, I lowered my 12-month price target to $10.50. That still suggests approximately 80% upside over the next year.

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