|Is it still dangerous?|
I have already taken a lot of profits and my strategy is still to look for income-producing assets - but diversifying away from the UK, whose economy I suspect will wallow in the doldrums for a few years (with possibly the exception of commercial property).
But is it safe to go back into the banking water - or are the financial sharks still circling, ready to snap up any fresh meat?
I've invested a lot in high-yielding UK banks in the past - such as Northern Rock, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays - with fairly disastrous consequences. So, are the banks safer now? Have they cleaned up their acts to the point where we won't have any more financial disasters?
Probably not - but I'm hoping that HSBC Holdings is offering a good dividend at a reasonable risk. The forecast yield is 4.9% with a dividend cover of 1.9%, which is pretty good for such a large, international company. A recent Motley Fool assessment came up with these positive points:
- HSBC is the second largest company on the FTSE 100, with a market cap roughly equal to the other four banks put together
- the dividend yield is well ahead of Standard Chartered and Barclays
- risk assets are broadly spread across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas
- Asia Pacific contributed 65% of total pre-tax profits last quarter, with 25% coming from Hong Kong alone
- a healthy 12.7% core tier one ratio also makes it one of the best capitalized banks
- HSBC's shares trading at 1.1 times net assets
- a policy of increasing dividends at least in line with inflation
- a disastrous acquisition of U.S. sub-prime lender Household led to big losses
- HSBC seems to have been the 'go-to' bank for Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican Drug cartels for several years, with more allegations of money laundering emerging around the world, resulting in huge fines
As the Telegraph reported:
"HSBC reported a fall in pre-tax profits for 2012 to $20.6bn after the bank was hit by record fines and the mis-selling claims but remained upbeat as it raised its dividend. The fall was largely due to a $5.2bn charge against changes in the value of the bank's own debt, as well a $1.9bn fine related to a US money-laundering investigation, and $1.4bn of provisions for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance and interest rate swaps."
If we remember that pretty much all high yield comes with a corresponding high risk perceived by the markets - in this case the risks might include further fines and poor performance in Hong Kong and the rest of China. There are probably more that I am not even aware of.
But I'm hoping that the risk/reward is OK: I'm diving back into the water.
[Purchase price: £6.913]
I am not a financial adviser and the information provided does not constitute financial advice. You should always do your own research on top of what you learn here to ensure that it's right for your specific circumstances.