The Zacks Savings and Loan industry consists of specialized U.S. banks that provide residential mortgages, commercial and industrial mortgages, home equity loans, vehicle loans and other business loans.
These institutions fund mortgages insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Though the firms operate similarly to commercial banks by providing various banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, these are bound to invest 65% of their asset holdings in residential mortgages. Moreover, these firms are locally owned and provide the best rates on mortgages.
Here are the three major themes in the industry:
- Over the last few years, an improving domestic economy and rising demand for residential mortgages have favored the U.S. savings and loan industry. Rising income of Americans, along with a not-so-unfavorable interest-rate environment, has supported the housing market by fueling demand for residential mortgages. Lesser regulatory supervision and an improving housing market, though at a slow pace, are anticipated to keep driving the industry’s growth in the upcoming quarters too.
- Meanwhile, recent rise in rates has somewhat dampened loan demand, as consumers avoid taking loans at higher rates. Particularly, weakness in revolving home equity loans slightly offset growth in the commercial and industrial (C&I), consumer and overall real estate loans. However, the current pause in rates hikes in the ongoing year, as indicated by the Fed might spur demand in loans. Moreover, the recent decline in mortgage rates will likely push refinancing activities higher. Nevertheless, the industry is exposed to extreme competition with commercial banks, credit unions and other non-bank organizations that offer similar financial services.
- For 2019 and beyond, multiple challenges will crop up for the savings and loan companies, including legacy technologies and an unbalanced customer base, in the course of undertaking better initiatives for significant growth. Thus, to remain competitive and reap profits in the rapidly-evolving market, these companies will need to ramp-up transition into diligently-focused, technology-driven and flexibly-operating institutions.
Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Solid Prospects
The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright near-term prospects.
The Zacks Savings and Loan industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #97, which places it at the top 38% of more than 250 Zacks industries. 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 in the top half of the rank list over the past six weeks.
The industry’s positioning in the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of encouraging earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are gaining confidence in this group’s earnings growth potential. Notably, the industry’s earnings estimates for the current year have been revised 1.2% upward since February 2019.
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 Savings and Loan Industry, a 36-stock group within the broader Zacks Finance Sector, has underperformed the S&P 500 and its own sector over the past two years.
While the stocks in this industry have collectively declined 6.2%, the Zacks S&P 500 Composite and Zacks Finance Sector have rallied 17.7% and 3.1%, respectively.
Two-Year Price Performance
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 finance companies 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 1.42X, below the median level of 1.46X, over the past five years. This compares with the highest level of 2.14X and lowest level of 1.13X over this period.
However, the industry is trading at a discount when compared with the market at large, as the trailing 12-month P/TBV ratio for the S&P 500 is 10.79X and the median level is 8.19X.
Price-to-Tangible Book Ratio (TTM)
The Zacks Finance sector’s trailing 12-month P/TBV ratio of 3.42X and the median level of 3.35X for the same period are above the Zacks Savings and Loan industry’s respective ratios.
Price-to-Tangible Book Ratio (TTM)
Continued benefits from a favorable operating environment, stabilizing housing market and increasing consumer income are expected to keep the momentum alive.
One should particularly consider betting on savings and loan stocks that depict an upbeat earnings outlook. We are presenting two stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and three with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) that investors may consider betting on.
5 Savings and Loan Stocks to Bet on
Brookline Bancorp, Inc. (BRKL): The stock of this Boston, MA-based bank has appreciated 4.9% over the past six months. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the ongoing-year EPS has been revised 5.5% upward in 60 days’ time. The stock sports Zacks Rank #1, at present. (You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here)
Price and Consensus: BRKL
Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (EBSB): Shares of this Peabody, MA-based bank have gained 17.3% over the past six months. The consensus EPS estimate for the current year has been revised 5% upward over the last 60 days. The stock currently sports a Zacks Rank #1.
Price and Consensus: EBSB
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. (DCOM): The consensus EPS estimate for this Brooklyn, NY-based bank has moved 1.5% north for 2019, over the past 60 days. This Zacks #2 Ranked stock has rallied 9.4% over the past six months.
Price and Consensus: DCOM
First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF): Shares of this Defiance, OH-based bank have gained 9.6% over the past six months. The consensus EPS estimate for the current year has been revised 1.3% upward over the last 60 days. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.
Price and Consensus: FDEF
Meta Financial Group, Inc. (CASH): The consensus EPS estimate for this Sioux Falls, SD-based bank has moved 6.8% north for 2019, over the past 60 days. This Zacks #2 Ranked stock has rallied 38.3% over the past six months.
Price and Consensus: CASH
Today's Best Stocks from Zacks
Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2018, while the S&P 500 gained +15.8%, five of our screens returned +38.0%, +61.3%, +61.6%, +68.1%, and +98.3%.
This outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. From 2000 – 2018, while the S&P averaged +4.8% per year, our top strategies averaged up to +56.2% per year.
See their latest picks free >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (EBSB) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Dime Community Bancshares, Inc. (DCOM) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Meta Financial Group, Inc. (CASH) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Brookline Bancorp, Inc. (BRKL) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research