Bladex (BLX): Zacks Rank Buy

Zacks

Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. (BLX) (or Bladex) has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three out of the last four quarters and matched once, putting together an average surprise of 34.1% in that time. Most recently, this foreign trade finance provider surprised by 8.9% in the second-quarter 2012. With a forward P/E multiple of just 8.3, this Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) is an attractive pick for value investors.

Solid Second-Quarter Performance

On July 18, Bladex delivered second quarter 2012 earnings of 61 cents per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 56 cents. However, earnings were down 12% from 69 cents in the second quarter of 2011.Better-than-expected results were aided by decent growth on the top line, partially offset by a marginal rise in operating expenses.

Net interest income jumped 11% year over year to $26.0 million. Likewise, fee income increased nearly 2% to $13.8 million. However, non-interest expenses inched up 1% to $13.5 million.

The Commercial Portfolio surged 8% from the second quarter of 2011 to $5.6 billion. The hike was driven by Bladex's established base of corporations, which was up 5%, along with expansion in the middle-market segment, which improved 43% in the quarter.

Estimates Moving Higher

Over the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 increased 3.3% to $2.52 per share with just one of four estimates revised upward. This implies a year-over-year growth of 11.8%. For 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimate is $2.69, marking an upswing of 5.9% over the last 30 days and suggesting a year-over-year improvement of about 6.8%.

Reasonable Valuation

Along with a P/E of 8.3, Bladex has a price-to-book (P/B) ratio of 0.74. (A P/E ratio under 15.0 and P/B ratio under 3.0 generally indicate value). Furthermore, over the last year, the company's share price has climbed nearly 12%.

Additionally, Bladex currently enjoys a solid dividend yield of 4.8%. The second quarter of 2012 marked the company's 33rd straight dividend-paying quarter. Therefore, in addition to being a value stock, the company also offers a lucrative growth and income opportunity.

Panama-based Banco Latinoamericano was created by the Central Banks of Latin America and the Caribbean as a supranational bank to support trade finance in the region. With a market capitalization of $598.9 million, the company's shareholders include 23 Central Banks and state-owned entities in the region, along with Latin American and international commercial banks as well as institutional and retail investors.

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