With major U.S. financial institutions like Citigroup racking up huge losses and Bear Stearns having a near-miss with bankruptcy, you might be tempted to write off banks as investments altogether. But before you do, take a look at Allied Irish Banks.
Allied Irish is a mid-sized bank with about $260 billion in assets, that operates primarily in Ireland and the U.K. it also owns part of an operation in Poland and a small stake in U.S. regional M&T Bank. But unlike many of its peers, it has limited exposure to subprime mortgages.
Still, AIB is trading as if the company was having serious problems. At only 7 times 2008 earnings estimates, the shares are "really really cheap," according to Zacks senior equity analyst Ann Heffron.
To be sure, earnings are expected to be flat this year. But analysts are projecting annual profit increases of 19% a year for the next few years thanks to continued strength in the Irish economy, aka the Celtic Tiger. Bear Stearns analyst Vikash Patel also points out that the bank, which has increased its dividend by about 10% a year, should continue boosting its payout even if the Irish economy starts to slow down a bit.