Though Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) shares have had a tough few years, they’ve rebounded strongly since October’s weakness. Also, they’re up almost 6% in the first week of 2023. So do I buy more, or wait to see if this stock slips again?
The long slide
Here’s how the shares have performed over the short and long term:
Lloyds stock is down almost a tenth in the past year and has lost nearly a third of its value over the past half-decade. That’s a pretty poor performance, given that the FTSE 100 index is down only 1% over the past five years.
Then again, these figures exclude cash dividends, which would boost Lloyds’ returns by several percentage points a year. Even so, I’d conclude that this Footsie stock has disappointed for too long.
Are the shares still cheap?
Over the last 12 months, the Lloyds share price has ranged from a high of 56p on 17 January of last year down to a low of 38.1p on 7 March (two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine). Right now, the stock is a little above the middle of its one-year range.
At the current share price, the entire Black Horse group has a market value of £32.3bn. To me, that’s a fairly modest price tag for a business with 26m customers and a host of well-known financial brands.
What’s more, Lloyds’ underlying fundamentals look fairly undemanding to me. The shares trade on a price-to-earnings ratio of 7.9, versus over 14 for the FTSE 100. This translates into an earnings yield of 12.6% — almost double that of the Footsie.
But what pushed my wife and I to buy Lloyds shares for our family portfolio in June was the market-beating dividend yield. At present, this is 4.4% a year, which is slightly above the FTSE 100’s cash yield. Even better, this payout is covered 2.8 times by group earnings, leaving lots of room for future increases.
Lloyds could have a tough 2023
Then again, dark clouds are gathering on the horizon for Lloyds and other major lenders. Economists forecast a nasty UK recession this year, caused by reduced consumer spending due to tumbling disposable incomes.
In addition, a toxic combination of soaring inflation, sky-high energy bills and rising interest rates is likely to send loan losses and bad debts soaring. However, Lloyds has a rock-solid balance sheet packed with high quality, liquid assets. And its Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio — one key measure of financial strength — is 15%, comfortably above the group’s target.
So would I buy Lloyds shares at current levels? My answer is no, but purely because we already own shares bought at lower prices. Furthermore, we won’t sell at anywhere near today’s share price. Indeed, we intend to hold on to these value shares for their long-term potential for future dividend income and capital gains!
Cliff D'Arcy has an economic interest in Lloyds Banking Group shares. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Lloyds Banking Group Plc. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services, such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool, we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Motley Fool UK 2023