UBS Stock Has Limited Upside

UBS: UBS logo

[Updated 09/17/2021] UBS Valuation Update

UBS’ stock (NYSE: UBS) has gained 18% YTD, and at its current price of $17 per share, it is trading 9% below its fair value of $18 – Trefis’ estimate for UBS’ valuationThe bank surpassed the earnings and revenues expectations in the second quarter FY2021 results and its stock has gained 10% since then. It reported net revenues (revenues minus provisions for credit losses) of $8.98 billion – up 21% y-o-y. Its wealth management division saw revenues grow 19% y-o-y led by higher Assets under Management (AuM), followed by a 27% jump in the asset management segment. Further, the provisions for credit losses fell to -$80 million from $272 million in the previous quarter. Altogether, this translated into a 63% y-o-y increase in the net income to $2 billion. 

The company’s net revenues of $32.4 billion in 2020 were 12% above the year-ago period. The bank reported a 30% y-o-y growth in the investment bank segment (includes sales & trading and investment banking businesses), driven by unusually high trading volumes and a jump in underwriting deal volumes. Further, the wealth management and asset management revenues grew due to higher Assets under Management (AuM). Moreover, the asset management and wealth management revenues for the first half of 2021 also followed the same trend as 2020. However, the investment bank stream decreased by 4% y-o-y, mainly due to lower FICC (fixed income, currency, and commodity) revenues. Moving forward, we expect the investment bank to post stagnant growth in 2021. Further, wealth and asset management businesses are likely to continue their growth trajectory. Overall, UBS revenues are likely to touch $34.5 billion in FY2021 – up 6% y-o-y. Additionally, the company is likely to report a net income of around $6.2 billion in the year. This will likely enable the firm to report an EPS of $1.69, which coupled with a P/E multiple of around 11x, will lead to the valuation of $18.

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[Updated 06/07/2021] Is UBS Stock Still Undervalued?

UBS stock (NYSE: UBS), the world’s largest wealth manager, gained roughly 17% – increasing from about $14 at the beginning of 2021 to around $16 currently, inching ahead of the S&P500, which grew 13% over the same period. 

There were two main reasons for this: First, the approval of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package in the U.S.  Second, the accelerated Covid-19 vaccination drive in the U.S. and Switzerland. Both of the above factors strengthen the forecasts of a strong economic recovery.

But is this all there is to the story? 

Not quite, despite the recent gains, Trefis estimates UBS’ valuation to be around $18 per share – 10% above the current market price – based on a key opportunity and one risk factor.

The opportunity we see is an improved trajectory for UBS’ revenues over the subsequent quarters. UBS full-year 2020 net revenues (revenues less provisions for credit losses) grew 12% y-o-y to $32.4 billion. It was mainly driven by a 27% y-o-y jump in the investment bank division (sales & trading and investment banking businesses) followed by growth in wealth management and asset management units. While the rise in the investment bank was due to higher trading volumes and higher underwriting volumes, wealth management and asset management benefited from growth in Assets under Management (AuM), which increased 14% y-o-y to $3 trillion and 21% y-o-y to $1.1 trillion, respectively. On the flip side, the bank reported a 2% drop in its personal & corporate banking net revenues due to a build-up in provisions for credit losses. 

The bank missed the consensus estimates of revenues and earnings in the first quarter of FY2021. While the net revenues grew 10% y-o-y to $8.7 billion, the bank suffered a $774 million loss in the quarter as a result of the default by the Archegos hedge fund. It posted a 7% y-o-y drop in its investment bank division, driven by lower sales & trading revenues, partially offset by growth in investment banking. Notably, the wealth management and asset management businesses continued their growth momentum in the first quarter as well, thanks to the growth in AuM. Further, the personal & corporate banking segment grew 15% y-o-y, due to higher non-interest income and lower provisions for credit losses. That said, we expect the sales & trading, and investment banking businesses to see higher trading and underwriting deal volumes for some more time, before normalizing with recovery in the economic conditions. Further, growth in AuM is likely to drive growth in wealth and asset management businesses in the year. Overall, we expect UBS’ revenues to be around $33 billion for FY2021.

The adjusted net income margin is likely to decrease in FY2021 from 20.2% to 17.5%, due to higher operating expenses. This is likely to decrease the EPS from $1.77 to $1.59 for the year, which coupled with the P/E multiple of just above 11x will lead to a valuation of around $18.

Finally, how much should the market pay per dollar of UBS’ earnings? Well, to earn close to $1.59 per year from a bank, you’d have to deposit about $159 in a savings account today, so about 100x the desired earnings. At UBS’s current share price of roughly $16, we are talking about a P/E multiple of just above 10x. And we think a figure closer to 11x will be appropriate.

That said, banking is a risky business right now. While growth is likely, change in current market sentiment can harm the near-term outlook. What’s behind that?

The bank has a portfolio of around $146 billion in personal & corporate banking loans (as per March 2021 figures). It increased its provisions for credit losses in FY2020 to compensate for the higher risk of loan defaults. Notably, the provisions have seen a favorable decrease over the recent quarters, signaling some improvement in the loan repayment capability of its customers. However, any sudden uptick in the Covid-19 cases or deterioration in the economic conditions can expose UBS to sizable loan defaults. Additionally, worsening of the economic scenario can hurt the asset valuations, negatively impacting UBS’ wealth and asset management businesses. To sum things up, we believe that UBS stock is somewhat undervalued. 


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