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Foreign Banks Industry's Near-Term Prospects Look Bright

Zacks Equity Research

The Zacks Foreign Banks Industry consists overseas banks that also have operations in the United States. Since a foreign banking organization may have both federally and state-chartered offices in the United States, the Federal Reserve plays a key role in supervising their U.S. operations.  

In addition to providing a broad range of products and services to U.S. customers, these banks provide financial services to their corporate clients having businesses in the United States.

Moreover, these banks establish relations with U.S. corporations operating in their home country. Some units of foreign banks offer a broad range of both wholesale and retail services, along with conducting money-market transactions for their parent organizations, while others involve in developing only specialized services.

Here are the three major themes in the industry:

  • Ongoing U.S.-China talks after halting of new trade tariffs for 90 days since December 2018 might normalize overseas banking transactions. Moreover, normalization of monetary policy by some central banks across the globe may keep the momentum alive in the foreign banking space.
  • Near-term growth prospects of foreign banks are being called into question due to the weak recovery witnessed by banks in developed nations (except the United States) and persistent trouble faced by banks in some of the emerging economies. Monetary policy normalization varies across nations, with the developed ones — which are homes to a number of major foreign banks — are specifically lagging. The central banks of these economies are yet to take interest rates to a level that could benefit their commercial banks.
  • While central banks in some nations are gearing up to hike interest rates, this may act against the sustainability of economic growth that the world has been witnessing. And any sluggishness in global economic growth could dampen the prospects for increasing banking activities. Notably, the European Central Bank (ECB) pushed the timing of first rise in interest rates since the 2008 financial crisis through the 2019-end. Additionally, the central bank slashed the Eurozone’s growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 to 1.1% and 1.6%, respectively from previous outlook of 1.7% for both the years. In addition, foreign banks in the United States are trying to push the Federal Reserve to get some regulatory relief in terms of capital requirements which are perceived to be too high for carrying out operations profitably.

Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Sound Prospects

The Zacks Foreign Banks Industry is a 61-stock group within the broader Zacks Finance Sector. The industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #94, which places it at the top 37% of more than 250 Zacks industries.

The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates continued outperformance in the near term. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.

Our proprietary Heat Map shows that the industry’s rank has remained volatile over the past eight weeks.


The industry’s positioning in the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of strong earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gradually gaining confidence in this group’s earnings growth potential. Since December 2018, the industry’s earnings estimate for the current year has been revised slightly upward.

Before we present a few stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio, let’s take a look at the industry’s recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.

Industry Lags on Shareholder Returns

The Zacks Foreign Banks Industry has underperformed both the S&P 500 and its own sector in the past year.

While the stocks in this industry have collectively decreased 14.4%, the Zacks S&P 500 composite has gained 0.9% and Zacks Finance Sector has declined 7.4%.

One-Year Price Performance


Industry’s Valuation

One might get a good sense of the industry’s relative valuation by looking at its price-to-tangible book ratio (P/TBV), which is commonly used for valuing banks because of large variations in their earnings results from one quarter to the next.

The industry currently has a trailing 12-month P/TBV of 1.41X. When compared with the highest level of 2.14X and median level of 1.72X over the past five years, there is apparently plenty of upside left.

Additionally, the industry is trading at lower levels when compared with the market at large, as the trailing 12-month P/TBV for the S&P 500 is 10.73X and the median level is 7.92X.

Price-to-Tangible Book Ratio (TTM)


As finance stocks typically have a lower P/TBV ratio comparing foreign banks with the S&P 500 may not make sense to many investors. But a comparison of the group’s P/TBV ratio with that of its border sector ensures that the group is trading at a decent discount. The Zacks Finance Sector’s trailing 12-month P/TBV of 2.98X and the median level of 3.05X for the same period are way above the Zacks Foreign Banks Industry’s respective ratios.

Price-to-Tangible Book Ratio (TTM)


Bottom Line

While the developed nations (except the United States) are yet to make the backdrop favorable for their banks, nothing better is anticipated from the emerging economies. In fact, a stronger dollar and rising U.S. Treasury yields have been putting pressure on some of the emerging economies.

Nevertheless, the industry might be able to tide over the broader challenges in the near future with resolution of trade issues between the world’s two largest economies. Therefore, it could be a good idea to bet on a few foreign bank stocks that have a strong earnings outlook.

We are presenting one stock with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and four stocks with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) that investors may consider betting on.

(You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.)

Banco Bradesco SA (BBD): The stock of this Brazil-based bank has produced 17.3% returns over the past three months. The consensus EPS estimate for the current year has climbed 8.3%, over the last 60 days. The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1, currently.

Price and Consensus: BBD

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. (ITUB): The stock of this Sao Paulo, Brazil-based bank has gained 4.8% in three months’ time. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current-year EPS has been revised 5.3% upward over the last 60 days. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Price and Consensus: ITUB

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG): The consensus EPS estimate for this London-based bank moved slightly up for the current year, over the last 60 days. The stock has rallied 23.5%, over the past three months. The stock holds a Zacks Rank of 2, at present.

Price and Consensus: LYG

Bank Of Montreal (BMO): The stock of this Montreal, Canada-based bank has appreciated 13.6% in the past three months. The consensus EPS estimate for the current fiscal year has been revised 1.8% north in the last 60 days. The stock has a Zacks Rank #2, currently.

Price and Consensus: BMO

Royal Bank Of Canada (RY): The stock of this Toronto, Canada-based bank has gained 9% in three months’ time. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current-year EPS has been revised slightly upward over the last 60 days. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Price and Consensus: RY

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Royal Bank Of Canada (RY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. (ITUB) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Bank Of Montreal (BMO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Banco Bradesco SA (BBD) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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