In the 12 months up until 19 February, Legal and General’s share price had climbed an impressive 11.4%. Fast forward nearly two weeks and it is down more than 7.5% over the same time period, as coronavirus fears weigh on the FTSE 100.
With full-year results out Wednesday, can a stellar set of earnings help the share price bounce back?
When are Legal and General reporting full-year results?
Why should investors care?
Over the past 12 months, Legal and General's share price had been on the up. On 19 February, it was up over 12%. Going back 3 years and shares are up 27%, with earnings per share up 16% per year.
Powering this is the substantial growth Legal and General has experienced across its business. This has translated to higher revenues and profits year after year. In half-year results Legal and General’s operating profit was up 11%, coming in at a meaty £1 billion.
And the company has been good to its shareholders. According to Simply Wall Street, Legal and General's total shareholder payout is up 52% over the last 3 years. A forward 5.80% dividend is one of the best on the FTSE 100, easily beating the 4.3% average.
Legal & General's total shareholder payout rise over past 3 years
One thing that should fill investors with confidence is that insiders at the insurer are buying up shares. As Simply Wall Street points out, L&G staff spent £100,000 buying the stock, with practically no one selling. Chairman of the Board John Oliver Kingman was the biggest buyer, picking up £4.3k worth of shares.
Growing annuity business
Legal and General has seen a significant increase in its annuity business. In half-year results, individual annuities were worth £4bn per annum, a whopping 18% market share. While annuity assets under management were worth £72.1 billion, up from 56.4 billion.
Nicholas Hyett, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, reckons the challenge Legal & General now faces is to grow that annuity business and ultimately protect the impressive dividend.
“That might sound counterintuitive – after all growing sales is usually a good sign for the dividend, but insurance is a bit of an unusual case,” Hyett says. “[But] when an insurer writes an insurance contract, like an annuity, it’s required to hold a certain amount of capital against that contract. This helps to give customers and regulators certainty that the insurer can make good on its promises.”
Investors should watch out for how much business final salary pensions are bringing in, compared to the cost of running them.
|PE ratio (TTM)||8.17|
|Quarterly Revenue Growth (YoY)||791.60%|
Legal & General share price vitals, Yahoo Finance, 03 March 2020
What to expect in full-year results?
On the Financial Times, analyst consensus is that revenues will come in at £15.43 billion. Earnings are expected to come in at 0.3153p. For 2020, expectations are that dividends will come in at 0.18p, an increase of 6.58%.
Legal and General trades at an 8.31x multiple, so it's not the most expensive stock out there. Analysts have pinned a 288.79p 12-month share price target on Legal and General. Hitting this would see an 9.8% upside on the current share price.
Of the 23 analysts tracking the stock on Yahoo Finance, opinion seems split. Only 9 analysts rate the stock a Strong Buy or Buy.
With the company continuing to dominate the UK pensions market, the current price, combined with the history of growth, might represent something of a bargain for investors.