Despite the financial meltdown over the past year, a couple of giant Financial names have weathered the storm, and even come out looking stronger than ever compared to many of their crippled rivals. There is a reason that the share prices of these two giants have not declined nearly as much as almost every other financial name. These are Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan (JPM). GS is my personal favorite of the two, but both are attractive stocks to me currently.
I have long considered GS to be the "smartest" big publicly traded financial firm, with JPM a close second. Goldman knows how to make money in countless ways, and seemingly avoid the large risks taken by other firms. Among recent Goldman alums are the last 2 U.S. Treasury Secretaries, a Governor/Former Senator, and a very popular CNBC pundit. Recently it has been suggested that they played a part in the demise of Bear Stearns, a onetime rival - also, the BS collapse and other credit disasters have strengthened the long-term position of both GS and JPM, in my view.
Yesterday's earnings report shows the still formidable profits of the financial powerhouse that is Goldman Sachs: Despite earnings and revenues being down slightly from the year ago, they still reported a profit of $2.05 billion on revenues of $9.42. Now, I am not an accountant, but I compute that as a 21.8% actual profit margin - pretty darn impressive for such a large firm. I show the Forward PE Ratio on GS as less than 10 - assuming their losses from the credit crisis have stabilized, I view this valuation as a bargain.
JPMorgan snapped up Bear Stearns (BSC) at a bargain basement price, a deal which should reap long-term benefits. Its financials are similar to GS - their next earnings report is due in Mid-July, and it will be interesting to see if they too have weathered the storm as well as Goldman. I would bet they have, although they may have some significant expenses and write-offs, especially from the Bear Stearns purchase. The dividend yield on JPM is sitting around 3.8% currently, better than Goldman, assuming it is sustained at the current rate.
History has shown that these are the kinds of firms that can avoid the large pitfalls and actually reap huge benefits, in the aftermath of financial disasters. They usually know how to make big money from volatility and risk, such as is seen in the Commodity and Currency markets today. Goldman, in particular, is usually "ahead of the curve", for whatever reason (wink, wink).
I would rate both GS and JPM as long-term "Strong Buys", with GS the slightly preferred of the two.