State-Owned Banks under Pressure

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Considering the fact that poor performance from main bank stocks is more able to drag the whole market down in Turkey than anywhere else, I have been trying to provide comprehensive information about the key themes in the industry in order to measure the changing dynamics. From this point I find analyzing of state-owned banks’ recent performance extremely necessary as it is already seen as the biggest threat to Turkish markets.

Halkbank and Vakifbank are the state-owned banks whose shares also traded in Borsa Istanbul with free-float rates of 49% and 25%, respectively. Their poor performance compared to the peers on a year-to-date basis had been already eye-catching, but, it has been even clearer following the general elections which ended up with no single party majority. As being run by the state share prices of both banks were amenable to the outcome of the elections.

Turkish Banks Stocks Performance 2014 - 2015

Above is the visualized form of year-over-year stock performances of Tier-1 banks in Turkey where two state-owned banks’ are shown in different shades of red. Vakifbank and Halkbank along with Yapi Kredi seem to be underperformers and all three have provided a negative return to investor through this period. Reviewing the stock performance with the fundamental data is here to be a key to fully discover the pricing dynamics and what actually lies behind.

Turkish Banks Key Fundamental Data

According to 1Q15 results Halkbank posted a ROE figure of 15.7% that made it one of the most profitable banks in CEEMEA region, however, this could not have prevented the stock from trading below its book value. On the other hand Vakifbank with a ROE of 13.6% is traded a significant discount of 26% to its book value. In light of this information two stocks are not fairly valued, offer a huge potential upside, and each indeed would be a great buying opportunity for investors who are eager to take hard to predict political risks.

In a previous note about Halkbank, I mentioned that the stock should not have been the conviction call among Tier-1 Turkish banks, and it was not likely benefit from the current trends in the industry. The current valuation is definitely beyond the framework I had proposed. As a matter of fact it is safe to say that political worries could be overblown.

On the other hand, there is evidence that shows Halkbank has always been valued with a company specific risk premium. The following charts show that the bank is traded with modest multipliers when compared to Tier-1 banks. Moreover, now Halk is not exceptionally far from historical averages in valuation terms.

Turkish Banks - Historical Price to Book Value

Halkbank - Historical Price to Book Value

Turkish Banks - Historical Price to EarningsHalkbank - Historical Price to Earnings

With so many upside and downside catalysts it is tough to allocate funds perfectly in emerging markets as the transformation in global monetary policy is likely to a game changer. Most particularly in Turkey it is crucially important to walk on eggs where the stock market is set to navigate in choppy waters. Within this context I believe the short term potential and longer term risks in Turkey’s state-owned banks stocks should be realized.

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