They say that in the short run, the stock market can feel more like guesswork, so trying to predict what might happen to Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) shares today, tomorrow or next month is as good as a guess. However, over the longer term, shares with a consistent track record of profits, dividends and/or cash flow will often revert to their underlying intrinic value.
Westpac is the second-largest ‘Big Four’ bank, and a financial services provider, headquartered in Sydney. Alongside CommBank, ANZ and NAB, Westpac finances homeowners, investors, individuals (via credit cards and personal loans) and businesses.
How anyone can analyse Westpac Banking Corp shares (an easy guide)
Culture is important
It’s fair to say, we think, that a good workplace and culture amongst staff can lead to improved retention of high-quality personnel and, in turn, that determines the long-term success of a company.
One way Aussie investors can take a ‘look inside’ a company like Westpac Banking Corp is to use a HR/jobs website like Seek. Seek’s website includes data on companies, including employee reviews. According to the most recent data we pulled on WBC, the company’s overall workplace culture rating of 3.1/5 was below the sector average of 3.19.
Watch those (net) margins
Banks such as WBC need debt and good profit margins to make their business profitable. In basic terms, a bank gets money from term deposit holders and wholesale debt investors and lends that money to homeowners, businesses and investors. The difference between what a bank pays to savers and what it makes from mortgage holders (for example) is the net interest margin or NIM. Remember: when it comes to NIMs, the wider the margin the better.
If you are forecasting the profits of a bank like WBC or National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX:NAB), knowing how much money the bank lends and what it makes per dollar lent to borrowers is essential. That’s why the NIM is arguably the most important measure of a bank’s profitability. Across the ASX’s major banks, we calculated the average NIM to be 1.94% whereas the bank’s lending margin was 2.13%, meaning the bank produced a better-than-average return from lending money to customers versus its peers.
The reason analysts study the NIM so closely is because Westpac Banking Corp earned 83% of its total income (akin to revenue) just from lending last year.
Return on shareholder equity (ROE)
Return on shareholder equity or just ‘ROE’ helps you compare the profit of a bank against its total shareholder equity, as shown on its balance sheet. The higher the ROE the better. Westpac Banking Corp’s ROE in the latest full year stood at 7.3%, meaning for every $100 of shareholder equity in the bank it produced $7.30 in yearly profit. This was more than the sector average of 6.99%.
CET1: Back-up bank capital
For Australia’s banks the CET1 ratio (aka ‘common equity tier one’) is paramount. CET1 represents the bank’s capital buffer which can go towards protecting it against financial collapse. According to our numbers, Westpac Banking Corp had a CET1 ratio of 10.8%. This was below the sector average.
DDM valuation – a few tricks for bank stocks
A dividend discount model or DDM is one of the easier and more efficient ways to value bank shares. To do a DDM we have to estimate the bank’s dividends going forward (i.e. the next full-year dividend) and then apply a risk rating. Using a simple DDM, let’s assume the bank’s dividend payment grows at a consistent yearly rate into the future somewhere between 1.5% and 3%. For the risk rating, we will use multiple risk rates between 9% and 14% and then average the valuations.
So what’s the result? Our simple DDM valuation of WBC shares is $9.10. However, using an ‘adjusted’ dividend payment of $0.82 per share, the valuation goes to $9.33. The valuation compares to WBC’s current share price of $18.56.
What this means is, although the shares might seem expensive using our simple DDM model, don’t make a decision based on this article. Please go away now and consider all of the risks and ideas we presented here. While you’re at it, you might also consider a diversified shares ETF, dividend fund or at least grab a copy of our free ETF investment report below.