On the charts, Lloyds Banking Group Plc (NYSE:LYG) looks expensive. The company’s Price to Earnings ratio, twelve months trailing is 42.31, lower than that of Barclays Capital Services (NYSE:BCS) at 79.94 but much higher than the industry average of 12.55. As per the latest data available, the company has a negative enterprise valuation (value of net assets owned by the shareholders) of $ 80.72 billion and its Market Capitalization is currently $ 71.74 billion in line with industry standards at $ 71.10 billion. Market Cap of Barclays Capital is marginally higher at $ 72.07 billion and that of Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS) is $ 54.22 billion. Without a doubt, the public offer with a 5% discount from the company’s market price is a boon to investors.
After successive losses in 2012 ($ 2391000) and in 2013 ($ 1388000) the company, last year made a profit of $ 2202000 and paid an annual dividend of $ 0.0465. Due to an improvement in performance and profitability over the past 18 months, the company in 2015 for the first time after the 2008 financial crisis announced an interim dividend of $ 0.0467 for its shareholders. High operating costs continue to be a concern. The operating margin of Lloyds is at 13% lower than Royal Bank of Scotland (25%) and Barclays Capital (24%) and the industrial average of 40%
There is a caveat, however. While the US Federal Reserve has signaled an increase in interest rates in the United States next month, interest rates in the UK is unlikely to rise till mid 2016 (at the earliest) as the current policy seems to be to allow inflation to return to normal without compromising on economic recovery. An increase in interest rate from 0.50% to 0.80% is seen around May 2016.
Also, given the company’s already high Market Cap, an immediate spike upwards seems unlikely on the charts at the moment especially in the absence of expansive territorial ventures. But, The company’s current dividend policy is to payout the excess capital to shareholders and maintain the dividend payout ratio at 65% which is an added boon for the dividend investor. The Net Income of Lloyds as per the latest statistical data is $ 1.97 billion which is higher than Barclays Capital at $ 719.89 million and RBS at a loss of $ 3.91 billion.
Also, for the strategic investor, now is the right time to go long. While low interest rates are a concern, volumes are expected to pick up significantly in the near to medium term. The banking model followed by Lloyds focuses on domestic markets and restricts itself to mortgage and retail banking making it England’s largest current account provider, unlike HSBC Holdings Plc (NYSE: HSBC) which is more of an investment bank. Having sold the Irish Loan Portfolio in end July, Lloyds is not looking at new ventures. At a time when global markets are bearish, the local economies are providing the much needed stability for niche banking operations and are typically more profitable.
Customer friendly solutions transforming mobile payments with a secure payment system like the recently launched ApplePay (currently available to Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Royal Bank of Scotland customers) are likely to positively impact brand loyalty. Easy to set up, customers continue to receive all the benefits and rewards offered by credit cards with ApplePay. ApplePay works with iPhone 6 and AppleWatch. For payment of goods and services ApplePay is compatible with iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2.
Annual EPS growth for Lloyds is roughly at 13% which is commendable for a conservative bank considering the banking industry is growing at 8%. The stock last traded on Friday at $ 4.40 down 3.08% on the NYSE. In the next 2 years, the stock could see a 15 to 20 percent return on investments.