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Here’s what you need to know about Barclays plc results before you buy

Image: Barclays. Fair use.

A remarkable thing about Barclays (LSE: BARC) is that its shares have shrugged off the Brexit vote. In the days after, they did tumble by 32% along with the rest of the banking sector, but a steady recovery since then has brought the price back to 185p for a mere 1% loss. By contrast, both Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland shares are still down 23% since the fateful day.

Even the news today that Barclays has set aside an additional £600m in its third quarter to meet further PPI mis-selling claims didn’t dent enthusiasm, and the shares rose 2% in early trading.

The bank reported a third-quarter pre-tax profit of £837m, which suggests it’s well on the way to meeting market forecasts of around £3.2bn for the full year.

Restructuring

Barclays’ strategy of selling off non-cores business is proceeding well — 12.2% of Barclays Africa has been sold off, and disposal to the point of enabling regulatory deconsolidation should happen in the next two or three years. The sell-off has been having an adverse effect on profits, mind, both from the loss of revenue and from associated restructuring costs.

But chief executive Jes Staley reckons that the end result is going to be “…a simplified transatlantic, consumer, corporate and investment bank with the capacity to deliver sustainable high quality returns for shareholders.”

Barclays’ performance was boosted by its investment banking arm, and for that we actually owe some thanks to the UK’s decision to leave the EU — the resulting slide in the value of the pound against the dollar has boosted profits in Sterling. Barclays’ wide international exposure should hopefully be less affected by European Union woes — but any post-departure economic slump in the UK is going to hurt Barclays for sure.

And there’s a chance that it will be considering moving its headquarters out of the UK, after the British Bankers’ Association revealed that plans are already being considered across the sector. That might save Barclays’ long-term prospects, but it wouldn’t do the UK’s economy much good.

Should you buy?

Despite the robust share price price performance since June, there’s a fundamental valuation here that still looks tempting. Full-year earnings per share for 2016 are expected to drop by around a third, which would give us a P/E multiple of a bit over 17 — and that, on its own, is not the least bit appealing.

But there’s a 65% EPS rebound on the cards for 2017, which would drop that ratio to only around 10.5. That isn’t a massively bigger valuation than Lloyds shares on a 2017 P/E of 8.5, with Lloyds predicted to see earnings continuing to fall next year.

There’s very little dividend from Barclays after it was slashed to help pay for restructuring, but the mooted 1.6% yield would be nearly six times covered by 2017 earnings, so there’s plenty of room for a quick return to progressive cash handouts — and there must be growing doubts about the forecast 6% yield at Lloyds, which would probably be less than twice covered.

Add all this to the deeper and more fundamental changes that Barclays has been making, and its major focus on transatlantic business, and I reckon the shares are looking attractive.

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Alan Oscroft owns shares of Lloyds Banking Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.