Down 10% in a week! What’s wrong with the Legal & General Group share price?

The Legal & General Group share price has fallen yet again. Harvey Jones is tempted to respond by loading up on the FTSE 100 stock.

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The Legal & General Group (LSE: LGEN) share price is falling yet again. Can it stop, please? This has gone on long enough.

When I started adding the FTSE 100 insurer and asset manager to my self-invested personal pension (SIPP) a year ago, I had high hopes.

Its shares were dirt cheap, trading at a mere six or seven times earnings. I thought they looked ripe for recovery, especially when central bankers finally started cutting interest rates. 

FTSE 100 recovery play

I thought that would boost it for two reasons. First, by driving up investor sentiment and share prices generally. Second, as savings rates and bond yields fell, ultra-high-yielding dividend stocks like this one would look even more attractive.

Nice theory. Sadly, it hasn’t panned out in practice. Markets hoped for six interest rate cuts in 2024, now they reckon on just one or two. Every time hopes fade, so does the share price. It plunged 9.81% last week and is down 5.36% over one year.

Worryingly, this is a long-term trend. The shares may yield a bumper 9.1%, but who cares if the Legal & General share price keeps sliding?

Legal & General is a solid financial services play with 14m retail customers. It should be storming it as an ageing population saves for retirement while the bulk annuities market has handed it a massive growth opportunity. Yet it preferred to tinker with an affordable modular housing business, recently closed after losing almost £100m.

I wish companies would stick to their knitting. So I’m pleased to see the board is planning to auction off its Cala Homes subsidiary for around £750m.

Last Wednesday, it set out its plans to restructure the business and boost shareholder returns. As a taster, it announced a £200m share buyback. Markets weren’t thrilled. Even Aviva stretched to £300m, while some FTSE 100 buybacks have run into billions.

Dividend income star

Yet I think now is a good time to top up my stake in Legal & General, as management wakes up to the challenges. Its shares trade at 9.94 times forecast 2024 earnings. Pretty cheap, but not as cheap as last year.

Still, there’s always the dividend. The forecast 2024 yield is a blockbuster 9.5%, rising to 9.96% in 2025. Growth thereafter will slow though, with the board promising just 2% a year. That’s not great but given the high starting point, I can live with that. The market clearly disagrees, hence last week’s sell-off.

I’m glad to see the group planning a bigger pitch for the US, where opportunities are obviously much bigger. I’m going to average down by purchasing more of its shares in the weeks ahead. They’re hard to resist, given that yield. Who knows? One day I may get some share price growth, too.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Harvey Jones has positions in Legal & General Group Plc. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. 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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