Top picks 2013: Nordea Bank, MTR Corp.
This Swedish bank and Hong Kong subway operators are top picks for global investors.
Our top conservative recommendation for 2013 is Sweden's Nordea Bank (NRBAY). The bank is focused on customer relationships, with a keen attention to risk and costs.
Our top aggressive pick for the coming year is MTR Corporation (MTRJY). This subway operator enjoys the benefits from being a legal monopoly in Hong Kong.
Some 85% of Nordea's loan portfolio is from northern Europe and Baltic. Its balance sheet is AA rated, with very low loan losses and capital growing at 9% annual clip.
It has a dominant market position, with 10 million retail customers, 520,000 corporate clients, 1,000 branches and Nordea is two times larger than nearest regional competitor.
96% of revenue comes from non-trading activities, which equals very low volatility in operating profits which have doubled over last decade.
Nordea's lending growth rate is 16% and its latest quarterly earnings show growth of 69.8% year over year; meanwhile, the stock is trading right at book value. A record of 40% of net income was paid out as dividend. The current dividend yield is 4.1%
MTR has 218 kilometers of subway and light rail track and 84 stations plus it's a leading land developer with over 29 million square feet of commercial and residential space.
Of particular interest is that while it shares in the profits with its property development partners, it doesn't share the losses.
MTR's new CEO is the former head of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Jay Walder. Over the last five years MTR has been aggressively expanding internationally, winning contracts to operate the Stockholm subway, a new rail line that served the London Olympics, and lines in Melbourne, Daxing, Shenzen and Beijing.
MTR has a great balance sheet with cash roughly equal to total debt. It has a dividend yield of 2.5% and has raised dividends every year over the past ten years.
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