Like Banco Santander (SAN) and Banco Bredesco (BBD), Credicorp Ltd (BAP) is a money center bank in Latin America that is starting to attract global investor attention. The Peruvian bank's stock is up almost 34% over the last six months, and for good reason.
On February 2, Credicorp reported an "unprecedented" $709.3 million in net earnings for 2011, a growth of 24.2%. The company's management calls these numbers "particularly significant," given adversity in the international market and uncertainty in the local political and investment scene.
There is a significant income stratification in Peru, which requires a very conservative operating framework for financial institutions, particularly in lending operations. Credicorp's strong management seems to understand this, which means they have solid balance sheets and income statements.
Profit margins are over 25%, which is very healthy. The operating margin is also robust at more than 33%. While dividends tend to be modest, they are supported by prudent payout ratios, which is a testament to sound corporate governance. It is also conducive for dividend hikes in the future.
Credicorp trades well on the NYSE, but investors may also want to look at the iShares MSCI All Peru Capped Index ETF (EPU), which gives 16% of its portfolio to Credicorp.