In the raging storm that was the global financial crisis, financial shares such as the banks, the insurers and the brokers were trashed.
Banks such as RBS and Lloyds, which had undertaken ill-timed takeovers and racked up mountains of bad debt, suffered the most.
A safe haven in the storm
One of the few safe havens in the storm was Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) (NASDAQOTG: SCBFF.US). With a simple focus on emerging and frontier markets, and with little bad debt or exposure to the fractured mortgage market, the company had emerged remarkably unscathed from the financial crisis.
Because of this, while the share prices of many banks were bumping along the bottom, the Standard Chartered share price recovered rapidly after the credit crunch.
But it was also because of this reason that I have until now favoured buying into banks such as Barclays and Lloyds instead. That was simply because, in the reverse logic of the contrarian, you buy into companies whose shares have been hit hardest by the crisis, as the potential for recovery is greater.
However, Standard Chartered has always been on my watchlist, as it is a fundamentally strong company with great growth prospects. But I have been waiting for the moment that the company found itself out of favour with the markets. I think this may be that time.
This is both a growth and a recovery play
The simple numbers bear this out: earlier this year the share price stood at 1,800p; it is now down to 1441p. The P/E ratio is 9, and the dividend yield is 4.1%. This is cheap for a business that continues to grow.
Why has the share price fallen so much? Well, the bank has been tainted by scandal. Firstly, last year there was the Iranian money-laundering scandal. Although the company kept its US banking licence, it was fined a total of £419m. Then this year, the Korean business has suffered a write-off of £650m.
Yet profits in most of Standard Chartered’s markets are growing: in markets from Hong Kong to India and Africa, this company is steadily growing turnover and earnings. Profits, and the dividend yield, are forecast to increase in future years. This is what is you would expect from a bank that is so focused on fast-growing emerging and frontier markets.
Growth in what we used to call the developing world is transitioning from manufacturing to consumers and services. Standard Chartered is benefiting from this new banking boom.
With financials returning to normality, and emerging markets bottoming, I expect Standard Chartered to recover quickly. So I have bought in, and I think you should, too.
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> Prabhat owns shares in Standard Chartered and Barclays. The Motley Fool owns shares in Standard Chartered.