Shares in HSBC (LSE: HSBA) continue to disappoint. They’re down by 13% since the turn of the year and would need to rise by 57% to trade at the same level as three years ago.
In that time, of course, the outlook has changed significantly for HSBC. The slowing of the Chinese economy may not have come as a major surprise, with a soft landing having been discussed for many years, but investors have still reacted negatively to Asia-focused stocks. That’s because there’s a real fear that the engine room of global growth in recent years may never return to its previous growth rate, which leaves investor sentiment in Asia-focused HSBC in a less than generous state.
While that’s understandable, China still has huge potential to develop as a consumer-focused economy. This could transform HSBC’s profitability over the long run and in the meantime it seems likely to make real progress with a strategy focusing on cutting costs, generating efficiencies and making the bank more profitable. This is expected to increase the bank’s bottom line by 10% this year and by a further 8% next year.
With HSBC trading on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 9.1, its shares offer tremendous upside and are dirt cheap. Although its outlook may be somewhat uncertain, the margin of safety on offer appears to be sufficiently wide to buy now, with a yield of 7.6% indicating that HSBC isn’t only cheap, but remains a top notch income play too.
No battle for Hastings
Also offering excellent value for money within the financials space is digital insurance specialist Hastings (LSE: HSTG). Its shares have fallen by 9% since the turn of the year and with the company’s bottom line forecast to rise by 41% in 2016, they trade on a forward P/E ratio of only 9.4. And with a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of only 0.2, there appears to be significant upward rerating potential on offer.
Furthermore, Hastings also offers a yield of 5.7% at its current share price, which indicates that it’s a strong income play. That’s especially the case since shareholder payouts are due to be covered 1.9 times by profit this year, which shows that there’s adequate headroom when making dividend payments. With interest rates set to stay low over the coming years, such a high, well-covered yield could cause investor sentiment to improve towards Hastings.
In addition, Hastings’ update from the end of September showed that it’s making progress with regards to customer numbers, with it being able to increase its market share of the UK car insurance market to 5.7% from 4.9% a year earlier. And with gross written premiums increasing by 26% versus the first nine months of the previous year, Hastings seems to be on track to deliver impressive share price performance over the medium-to-long term.
Peter Stephens owns shares of HSBC Holdings. The Motley Fool UK has recommended HSBC Holdings. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.