Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) has had a rough few months. This was a $200 stock as recently as November. Now it’s at under $150. Since raising its dividend to 65 cents/share back in the summer, the stock is down 28%.
Quarterly results have been choppy, and the fourth quarter was especially so, with net income of $765 million, $1.27/share, which was down almost 50% from the $1.43 billion, $2.90/share, reported in the previous quarter.
For yield investors, that’s not a problem. It’s still double what is needed to pay the dividend. The recent fall-off in the stock price has increased that yield to 1.75%, but that’s not why you buy the stock.
You buy an investment bank for growth, and the investment banks look poised to grow again, at least according to analysts at JP Morgan. Goldman’s traders are also showing more optimism, dismissing the recent rally in gold.
Goldman is in good position to either weather the storm or move forward, with well over 10% of its $880 billion in assets sitting in the form of $95 billion of cash. An investment bank, unlike a commercial bank, looks more like an operating company than a lender, and the company’s balance sheet reflects that. The company argues this means it doesn’t need the kind of regulations imposed on lenders after the Great Recession, but the fact is its financial position has become a strength.
Strength helps make Goldman Sachs a target. Some writers here at Seeking Alpha feel that the political battering it is taking may hurt the stock’s value. Were this a political piece I’d be among those doing the battering. But don’t let politics get in the way of making money.
What does Goldman Sachs see that apparently half its own investors, who are expecting a recession, don’t see? It is seeing past that recession, having cut its CEO’s pay and dumped 10% of its bond traders.
Across the chasm, Goldman Sachs now sees equity growth. The U.S. economy is not in that bad shape, the company’s analysts say. Goldman sees real growth coming in virtual reality and augmented reality. Oil can fall below $20 but there will still be some winners because it’s going back to $35 and staying there.
There are reasons for optimism, new green shoots among the rubble of the last year. The Internet of Things. Renewable energy, especially efficiency. China continues to grow, even if that growth is slowing, while Asia and Africa continue to power ahead. Goldman Sachs is the most global of America’s investment banks and that’s what it sees.
Despite its recent fall in price, Goldman retains the highest Price/Earnings multiple among the big banks, a 12.2 against an anemic 9.7 for JP Morgan Chase. The market’s spidey sense is tingling on this sort of data, and so is mine. You buy a stock when everyone is dissing it, and everyone is dissing Goldman Sachs.
Goldman is signaling it wants to invest, heavily, in equity deals. While other banks are hunkering down for a recession (or worse) Goldman is gearing itself up for growth. That is an unusual stance to take in the present environment, but if that is your stance, then Goldman Sachs is ready for the ride.