As the European economy sports some green shoots of positive change, it’s becoming clearer that the region is approaching escape velocity from the deep recession that has had a deep and long grip on Europe.
The euro has been in a very powerful uptrend against other major currencies, and the ECB, led by Mario Draghi, has demonstrated a highly proactive combination of austerity and stimulus measures that has taken root and fostered a resumption of 2%-plus GDP growth.
Investors have the luxury of retrospect in betting on Europe’s recovery by simply looking to the U.S. template. The Federal Reserve made possible the reflating of U.S. banks’ balance sheets with quantitative easing, and the ECB is running a sequel to that program, thereby setting the stage for a bank rally that would rival that of the U.S. run-up in financials over the past four years.
Banco Santander is a Madrid, Spain-based global bank that does retail banking for individuals, as well as small- to medium-sized enterprises. And while it’s based in Spain, Santander is very international in operation, doing business in Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Portugal, Germany, Chile, Argentina, Poland and the U.S. Those operations run through three segments: Retail Banking, Global Wholesale Banking, and Asset Management and Insurance.
While SAN stock is up just 2% year-to-date, I still firmly believe that when looking for a way to play the nascent bank rally across the pond, investors need not look any further than Banco Santander.
In short, I feel there are five good reasons to buy the stock at its current price of roughly $9.20 per share:
- Banco Santander never took government bailout money — a testament to prudent management of what was a sovereign mess for most European banks.
- SAN stock carries a hugely attractive yield of 7.1%, with the next quarterly dividend payment slated for early April.
- Shares trade at just 1.14 times book value, and earnings per share are forecast to grow by 15% over the next year.
- The bank’s exposure to Latin America is in my view a tremendous long-term investment theme.
- And lastly, the stock has a constructively bullish chart formation (shown below).
Buying Banco Santander S.A. offers excellent potential for capital appreciation and income, which is why it’s not just my pick in the Best Stocks for 2014 contest, but also Cash Machine’s top pick for 2014.