As the economy recovers from the Great Recession, the banks too have been recovering. Rising profits, and share prices on the up, mean that people are once again seriously considering the banks as long-term investment opportunities.
In fact, we are the approaching the stage where the banks are considered not just as turnaround opportunities but asincome investments.
Lloyds is one of the countrys leading banks, as well as its top mortgage provider. It was hit particularly hard by the Credit Crunch, and has paid out billions in the PPI mis-selling scandal.
But there is strong evidence that this companys prospects are on the turn. The crucial point is that impairment charges have been falling, and falling rapidly. As impairment charges tumble, the bank is finally profitable once again. With a resurgent economy and housing market, profits are expected to push ahead in the next few years. Consensus estimates a 2014 P/E ratio of 10.3, falling to 8.8 in 2015.
Since the Crisis, Lloyds has not paid any dividends. But as the businesss capital position improves steadily,with a core Tier 1 ratio now at 11.1%, it is now broaching the prospect of paying a dividend. It is estimated that the 2014 dividend yield will be 2.0%, rising to 4.7% in 2015.
I see Lloyds as both a growth investment and an income investment. I see the growing dividend yield as a sign of increasing confidence in the business, as the banks gradually say goodbye to the years of Credit Crunch, impairments and billion-pound fines.
In contrast to Lloyds, HSBC emerged relatively unscathed from the Credit Crunch. But thats not to say it hasnt had to pay hefty PPI mis-selling fines. But it has not suffered the billions of pounds of impairment charges that banks such as Lloyds, RBS and Barclays were hit with.
HSBC has been the most boring bank in the UK, and that in itself is a significant plus point. Whats more, its size and global reach, from the UK toChina and Latin America, mean it is a more stable, if slower moving business.
Why would you invest in one of the worldslargest banks? Well, not to see lightning-fast growth, but to see a safe home for your money, anda regular flow of dividend cheques.
HSBC looks reasonably cheap as well, with a 2014 P/E ratio of 12.2, and a dividend yield of 4.6%, and a 2015 P/E ratio of 11.3, witha dividend yield of 5.0%. This bank produces a consistent and gradually rising yield each year. Thus, in many ways, this is the ideal dividend play.
Foolish bottom line
So which company should you buy? Well it depends what you want, and what type of investor you are. If you are risk averse, and want to invest in a company which is stable and highly cash-generative, then HSBC would be your choice.
But if you want to achieve a higher long-term total return, and are willing to take more risk, I would invest in Lloyds.
As for me personally, I see myself as a higher risk investor, so I have bought into Lloyds.
The Motley Fool’s guide to banks
Many people now see the banks as potential contrarian and income plays. Yet they are often put off from investing by the complex terminology, from impairment charges to core tier 1 ratios.
So we at the Fool have put together a freereportwhich guides you throughthe complexities of bank investing.
Prabhat Sakyaowns shares in Lloyds. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.