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What’s going on with the Metro Bank share price?

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The Metro Bank (LSE: MTRO) share price has slumped 8.9% over the past 12 months. This figure in itself is a bit misleading because this time last year, the stock was still recovering from the coronavirus market crash.

As such, the returns are flattered by the positive market performance since then. If we go back to the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic spread around the world, the stock was trading for around 200p. This implies shares in the bank have declined just over 50% since the beginning of 2020. 

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So, what’s going on with the Metro Bank share price? 

The Metro Bank share price stands out

Something that stands out about the company’s recent performance is that, compared to other lenders, the group has substantially underperformed.

Over the past 12 months, shares in Lloyds have returned 55%, and shares in NatWest have returned 69%, excluding dividends. Metro has underperformed its larger peers by 63.9% and 77.9% respectively. 

These returns suggest the company is struggling from issues specific to itself rather than the broader economic performance. 

Looking through the company’s figures, it seems clear to me why the business has failed to win over the support of investors. Last year, the group lost £311m. That followed a loss of £131m in 2019. Higher loan impairment charges and a lower net interest margin (the difference between the rate of interest the bank charges to borrowers and pays lenders) both hurt profitability last year. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the group is going to return to profit anytime soon. City analysts have pencilled in losses for at least the next two years. While these are only projections at this stage, I think they show the scale of the business’s challenges right now. 

Furthermore, as the bank continues to lose money, it’s technically shrinking. It seems to me this is the primary reason why the Metro Bank share price has been falling. And it could continue to do so if the business continues to lose money. 

Growth plans 

Still, management is being proactive in looking for new growth avenues. Last year, it agreed to acquire RateSetter, as part of its strategy to reach new customers and increase loan volumes. Management is also trying to reduce costs, recently closing its central London office. 

It’s also well-liked by consumers. Last year, the bank was awarded ‘Moneynet Banking Brand of the Year 2021’ and ‘MoneyAge Bank of the Year 2020’. Its large peers can only dream of winning such awards. 

As such, Metro Bank has its strengths, but the company continues to lose money. This is probably the biggest challenge the enterprise faces right now. Getting out of its loss-making cycle will take time.

Until then, I reckon it’s likely the Metro Bank share price will continue to decline. With this being the case, I wouldn’t buy shares in the enterprise right now.

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Lloyds Banking Group. 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.

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