The FTSE 100 doesn’t know which way to turn since the EU Referendum. One day there’s a slump, then it’s back up above pre-referendum levels again. Within that, though, there’s been a major shift away from financials and housebuilders and towards so-called safety stocks. Has that thrown up any great dividend bargains?
Cash from insurance
Standard Life (LSE: SL) shares had endured a rough 12 months before picking up a bit, but immediately fell back when the referendum result was known. At 299p, the shares are down 13% since the day of the vote — and the price is now only 11 times forecast earnings for this year, dropping to 10 times based on 2017 predictions.
Standard Life’s punishment is understandable, as the company has been reshaping itself into more of an investment manager, and downturns in the investment climate should be expected to knock it back a bit.
But we’re looking at forecasts for a near doubling of earnings this year, which leaves room for a modest downgrade while still looking good. And the jewel in the crown is its dividend, with a yield of 6.6% on the cards for this year, rising to 7.1% next. Cover by earnings could be better, but I see Standard Life as a tempting income target now.
The crunch that’s hit housebuilders is worse than I’d have expected in the circumstances, and we’re looking at a 29% fall in Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) shares, to 136p. Now, that fall isn’t entirely irrational, as anything that puts a dent in foreign investment in UK property (particularly in London) is going to hurt — and on top of that, there’s always been a cyclical nature to the sector, which has been on a bull run for a few years now.
It’s also arguable that today’s low P/E valuation, which values Taylor Wimpey shares at just 7.8 times forecast earnings, is justified on the grounds that the sector’s strong rise surely has to stop some time. I’m just not seeing it.
The dividend predicted for this year would yield a massive 8%, and it would be reasonably well-covered by earnings. Even if property prices themselves should fall, housebuilders should still enjoy decent margins as their land-replenishment costs should fall too — and we’re still faced with a significant housing shortage, which leaving the EU isn’t going to stop.
Then we come to the bank that everyone loves to hate, HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA). HSBC has been a pariah among its peers in recent years, as its focus on China and the Asian region has left it exposed to the slowdown that’s happening there. In a little over three years, HSBC shares have fallen by 41% to today’s 470p.
But now, suddenly, it’s exposure to the UK and Europe that everyone is shunning, and HSBC is being seen through more appreciative eyes. Though the shares did fall in the days after the referendum, they’ve recovered and are actually 3.5% up since the fateful day.
Part of the attraction is HSBC’s dividends which, if they come in according to forecasts, would provide a yield of 7.1% this year. Granted, cover wouldn’t be great, but if HSBC is past its worst then we could be looking at a solid long-term income provider — after all, even through its shaky period of the last few years, HSBC has kept on handing over the cash.