One FTSE 100 stock I keep an eye on is Barclays (LSE: BARC). For me, the ‘Blue Eagle’ bank can be a useful bellwether for the health of the UK economy, because bank earnings are highly cyclical. Of course, the Barclays share price had a torrid 2020, but has skyrocketed since its spring 2020 lows. Indeed, since February, the shares have barely missed a beat, rising steadily to current highs. But after BARC’s strong run, has this stock run out of steam?
The share price slumps and then soars
It’s been a long time since the Barclays share price has been anywhere near the five-year highs reached in early 2017. On 23 February 2017, BARC hit an intra-day high of 244.4p, before closing at 229.05p. But the stock went into steady decline from then on, ending 2019 at 179.64p. Then came coronavirus and the collapse of the global economy. The bank’s shares went into meltdown, crashing to an intra-day low of 73.04p on 19 March 2020. They then bounced back strongly last summer, before falling again to close at 91.55p on 25 September last year.
But with ‘Vaccine Monday’ (7 November 2020), when news of efficacious Covid-19 vaccines sent stocks soaring around the world. BARC roared to life again, closing 2020 at 146.68p. Today, as I write, the Barclays share price trades around 195.4p, having almost doubled (+92.5%) over the past 12 months. What’s more, the stock has had a strong run recently, leaping by 15.6% in three months. This places it at #12 among FTSE 100 risers since 15 July. But has BARC run its course, or is there more fuel in the tank for future gains?
Would I buy BARC today?
With the Barclays share price just 3p or so short of its 52-week high, has this stock gone too far, too fast? I can’t be sure, but its fundamentals still look good to me as a veteran value investor so there could still be room for it to rise. At the current price, the bank has a market value of £32.9bn, making it a FTSE 100 heavyweight. Its shares trade on a lowly price-to-earnings ratio of 7.4 and an earnings yield of 13.5%. BARC’s dividend yield is a modest 1.5% a year, but this follows the withdrawal of dividends in 2020 at the UK regulator’s request. For me, there’s plenty of scope for Barclays to lift its dividend considerably higher.
I don’t hold BARC right now, but I’d be tempted to buy if the share price dropped back from current levels. However, I wouldn’t buy BARC today anyway, purely because I’d rather wait for big news coming in a week’s time. Next Thursday (21 October), the bank releases its Q3 2021 results, which will be eagerly anticipated by institutional and retail investors alike. If its earnings rise and bad debts continue to fall, then this might inject new life into the stock. Also, if the group’s international and investment-banking divisions have done well, this could also be good news for BARC.
Then again, rising inflation, supply-chain constraints and soaring energy prices are hitting consumers hard, which could spell bad news for banks. Thus, while I wouldn’t buy at the current Barclays share price, I might be willing if the stock falls or its underlying fundamentals improve yet further. For now, I’m sitting on the fence for a week until I see the next set of figures!