A Contrarians View of Value: Financials

This is the first in a three-part series on sector opportunities as seen by a contrarian value investor — Senior Portfolio Manager Kevin Holt.

In the wake of the Great Recession, and significant regulatory changes, investors are concerned that large banks may not be able to generate the type of profits that they have in the past. We don’t disagree with that assessment. However, we do disagree with the current equity valuations of the large banks — we believe the market has priced in a too-pessimistic view of profitability.

Take Citigroup for example (3.94% of Invesco Comstock Fund as of March 31, 2014.) Altogether, the company generates about a 6% return on equity. However, its segregated Citi Holdings assets (primarily low-quality mortgage paper) are scheduled to migrate off the books over the next five to seven years. That leaves a core banking operation that produces a 13% return on equity. Historically, a bank with a 13% return on equity would trade somewhere around 1.3x tangible book value. Since March 31, 2014, Citigroup had been trading in a range between $47 to just under $49, or around 0.85x tangible book value.

At the same time, we calculate that Citigroup will generate $50 to $60 billion in excess capital over the next three years, and we expect most of that will be returned to shareholders through dividends and buybacks. That’s a significant sum for a company with a current market cap of less than $150 billion.

As a deep value manager, I’m looking for companies that are trading at a significant discount to their true value, and I’m willing to wait patiently for these companies’ share prices to catch up to our view. Citigroup is typical of what we own: Its near future is relatively unexciting, but it’s trading at 50% of what we believe it can be worth in the next three to five years.

Overall, we believe the quality of the financials sector is the best we’ve seen in at least a decade. However, we see this story playing out over the course of the next four or five years. For long-term value investors, we believe one of our chief advantages is our patient, long-term approach.

Important information

Return on equity is the amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders equity.

Invesco Comstock Fund’s investment objective is total return through growth of capital and current income.

About risk

An issuer may be unable to meet interest and/or principal payments, thereby causing its instruments to decrease in value and lowering the issuer’s credit rating.

Depositary receipts involve many of the same risks as a direct investment in foreign securities, and issuers of certain depositary receipts are under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications to the holders or to pass through to them any voting rights.

Derivatives may be more volatile and less liquid than traditional investments and are subject to market, interest rate, credit, leverage, counterparty and management risks. An investment in a derivative could lose more than the cash amount invested.

An investment in emerging market countries carries greater risks compared to more developed economies.

The risks of investing in securities of foreign issuers can include fluctuations in foreign currencies, political and economic instability, and foreign taxation issues.

Interest rate risk refers to the risk that bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise and vice versa.

The investment techniques and risk analysis used by portfolio managers may not produce desired results.

Investments in real estate related instruments may be affected by economic, legal, or environmental factors that affect property values, rents or occupancies of real estate. Real estate companies, including REITs or similar structures, tend to be small- and mid-cap companies, and their shares may be more volatile and less liquid.

Stocks of small and mid-sized companies tend to be more vulnerable to adverse developments, may be more volatile, and may be illiquid or restricted as to resale.

A value style of investing is subject to the risk that the valuations never improve or that the returns will trail other styles of investing or the overall stock markets.

All data provided by Invesco unless otherwise noted.

Invesco Distributors, Inc. is a US distributor for retail mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, institutional money market funds and unit investment trusts.

Invesco unit investment trusts are distributed by the sponsor, Invesco Capital Markets, Inc. and broker dealers including Invesco Distributors, Inc. These Invesco entities are indirect, wholly owned subsidiaries of Invesco Ltd.

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