Banco Santander Chile
It's been a pretty brutal year for shares of Banco Santander Chile (BSAC). Shares of the $10.5 billion Santiago-based bank have slipped more than 21% since the first trading day in January, hit by weakness in emerging markets and inflation concerns specifically in the Chilean peso. That's helped ratchet short interest in BSAC to a lofty 19.7.
Santander Chile is essentially a bet on the robustness of the Chilean economy. While that argument hasn't held much weight lately, with emerging market economies falling flat versus established markets like the U.S., investors shouldn't forget the capital magnetism that Latin America recently provided. A stable economy in Chile combined with low credit penetration should provide an attractive combination for Santander Chile. The firm's primary customer base has ample runway ahead of it.Investors are understandably concerned about exposure to the Chilean peso, a currency that has seen more than one iteration in most investors' lifetimes. But better currency controls have helped to curb inflation -- and the peso's biggest risks come from the perpetual strength of the U.S. dollar these days, not a return to hyperinflation. Chile's biggest bank looks cheap this fall after getting sold off hard; a short squeeze could bring shares back to where they should be.
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