Turkish banks have been lending to energy industry firms at a rapid clip. The share of the industry in total corporate loans rose from 3% in 2007 to 7.4% in 2H15, and this came amid a lending boom that had been a major concern about the economy.
According to the Turkish banking watchdog (BRSA) data, total energy loans were 151 million liras that accounted for 7.36% of total corporate loans which was 2,058 million liras as of the end of the month of July. Bank loans apparently started to boost energy investments in Turkey in later 2007 when the industry only presented 3% of the total cash lent to the businesses.
Nevertheless the industry definitely has not taken a toll on banks as the non-performing loan rate for the industry stood at 1.37% while 2.87% of the total corporate loans were considered as bad. However, the NPL for energy industry grew such a fast pace that the bad loans had more than tripled since May 2014. Considering that the contribution of the industry to the total output of the economy that had remained steady, the over-investment fears loom in the industry. This also makes essential to assess the appropriateness of Turkey’s current energy investment levels.
Things are definitely not sticking out like sore thumb at the moment, Turkish policy makers may need to move fast to bring investment growth down, or over-investment will contribute to further financial fragility leading, ultimately, to the point where credit cannot expand quickly enough and investment will collapse anyway.
As I noted earlier, Turkish stock market is mostly driven by a bunch of large-cap bank stocks with high levels of trading activity. Under these circumstances, developments in the industry becomes crucially important for any investor holding Turkish assets. Hereby, my aim is to mention some important points by using some valuation metrics in historical perspective. In this analysis I have a narrow scope consisting of six top trading bank stocks which in fact is big enough to cover and to fully understand the undergoing stock market trends. These stocks include Akbank, Halkbank, Garanti, Is Bankasi, Yapi Kredi and Vakifbank.
The chart below shows how has the market cap weighted price to book value of under-researched companies evolved for the last five years. Turkish bank stocks seem to be cheap at first glance on historical basis. For the last five years they have averagely traded at one and a half times their book value. However, September 2010 was a significant turnaround in the valuation of banks where an average a P/BV over 2.3 was observed. Therefore, I minimized the period that the chart covers to three years to able to obtain more meaningful results. Once more, the recent valuations are slightly below the historical average.
The premium valuations certainly require high profits, there is no doubt about that. At this stage it would be helpful to check the reported financials to see if the valuations prove to be right. Return on equity which is a central measure of performance in the banking industry is what I intend to focus here. That said, it is the most widely used metric to predict the future P/BV.
As of the end of 2014, market cap weighted RoE in selected bank stocks seems to hit the dip in under-researched period. This presents some important findings. First, below average valuation on historical basis is simply fair as the profitability of industry has taken a huge hit starting mid-2014. Second, aside from being fair, the valuation may even be optimistic as they are still near their historical average. This may also be due to Turkey’s macroeconomic fundamentals perceived as less risky by investors, like lower blended risk-free rate for the local currency, or lower market risk premium.
The second finding I mentioned above take us to paint a picture of future for Turkish bank stocks. Frankly speaking the level of profitability across the industry does not help us paint a rosy one for upcoming months. What is worse, United States Federal Reserve’s policy tightening will absolutely hurt the capital inflows to emerging markets and result in gloomier macroeconomic outlook for them. This eventually will cause a substantial increase in perceived risk. Will Turkey’s banks reporting lower revenues and income still be able to attract investors’ attention in this case? That’s a vital question.