UBS stock (NYSE: UBS) lost nearly 40% – dropping from $13 at the end of 2019 to around $8 in late March – then spiked 60% to around $12.50 now. This implies that the stock has recovered and it is similar to the level it was at the start of the year.
There were two clear reasons for this: The Covid-19 outbreak and economic slowdown meant that market expectations for 2020 and the near-term consumer demand plunged. This could negatively affect businesses and individuals, impacting their loan repayment capability and exposing UBS to sizable loan losses. The multi-billion-dollar Fed stimulus provided a floor, and the stock recovery owes much to that.
But has the stock run its course or is there room for growth? It seems to have run its course. Trefis estimates UBS’s valuation to be around $13 per share – similar to the current market price – based on upcoming triggers explained below and one major risk factor.
The trigger is an improved trajectory for UBS’s revenues over the second half of the year. We expect the company to report $29.6 billion in revenues for 2020 – higher than the figure for 2019. Our forecast stems from our belief that the economy will gradually improve in Q3. Further, the easing of lockdown restrictions in most of the world is likely to help consumer demand, benefiting the overall business scenario. The bank’s investment banking operations have driven positive revenue growth in Q1 and Q2 due to higher trading volumes, with the bank’s trading revenues surging by 34% in the first half of 2020 as compared to the year-ago period. On similar lines, UBS’s underwriting fees saw significant growth in the first half of 2020 due to a jump in debt underwriting deals after the Fed stimulus. This has partially offset the impact of weak revenues in other segments. While we expect the trading income to drop in the subsequent quarters, it is likely to be still higher than the year-ago period. Overall, we see the company reporting an EPS in the range of $1.14 for FY2020.
Thereafter, UBS’s revenues are expected to remain constant around $29.5 billion in FY2021, as an increase in wealth management revenue is likely to be offset by a decline in sales & trading revenues. Further, the net income margin is likely to grow as compared to the previous year due to a decline in provisions for credit losses, leading to an EPS of $1.24 for FY2021.
Finally, how much should the market pay per dollar of UBS’s earnings? Well, to earn close to $1.24 per year from a bank, you’d have to deposit about $135 in a savings account today, so about 110x the desired earnings. At UBS’s current share price of roughly $12.50, we are talking about a P/E multiple of around 10x, and we think the figure is appropriate.
That said, banking is a risky business right now. Growth looks less promising, and near-term prospects are less than rosy. What’s behind that?
UBS has a portfolio of consumer, commercial, and wealth management loans – more than $315 billion in FY 2019. The economic downturn could deteriorate the loan repayment capability of its consumers, exposing the bank to significant loan defaults. In anticipation of this risk, UBS has increased its provisions for loan losses from around $32 million in the first half of 2019 to $540 million so far – a 17x jump. If the economic condition worsens, this figure could further increase in the subsequent months. Further, a negative economic outlook will make it expensive for the bank to attract funding, increasing the cost of its operations. Moreover, we believe the market has already priced in UBS’s growth and risk drivers, and the company’s stock looks fairly valued at its current levels.
What if you’re looking for a more balanced portfolio instead? Here’s a top quality portfolio to outperform the market, with over 100% return since 2016, versus 55% for the S&P 500. Comprised of companies with strong revenue growth, healthy profits, lots of cash, and low risk. It has outperformed the broader market year after year, consistently.