Don't Move to Canada; Buy Its Best Bank Stock Instead

After every U.S. presidential election, disenchanted partisans predictably holler, "I'm moving to Canada!" We heard this collective cry in 2008 and again in 2012, from Republicans who passionately loathe Barack Obama. Now we're hearing it from Democrats who despise Donald Trump.

In fact, a surge of visitors crashed Canada's immigration website on the night of Nov. 8, as electoral maps on television news turned overwhelmingly red and panicky Hillary Clinton voters got out their luggage.

But many Americans are learning that it's difficult, expensive and time-consuming to move to the Great White North. Here's an easier and highly lucrative way to benefit from Canada's social equilibrium and prosperous economy: Buy shares of Canada's best-of-breed bank, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) . We explain why this company, also known as Scotiabank, is a growth opportunity that also belongs in your dividend portfolio.

Bank of Nova Scotia is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday, Nov. 29, before the markets open. The report will be for the fiscal quarter ending Oct. 2016. The analyst consensus for earnings per share for the quarter is $1.12, compared with $1.46 in the same quarter last year (all amounts in U.S. dollars).

Largely weighing on earnings has been the bank's portfolio of troubled energy loans, but we think that challenge will soon dissipate.

Bank of Nova Scotia in May significantly raised its loan loss provisions, largely to cover expected defaults in the oil and gas industry. At the same time, the bank's energy patch creditors are getting relief as oil prices embark on what appears to be a sustainable recovery. The bank's current dividend yield is a fat 4.3%, making this stock a highly attractive total return package.

Bank of Nova Scotia shares now hover at about $52.68; the average 12-month price target from analysts is $56.26. That suggests the stock can gain 6.8% over the next year. Yet the stock's trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is only about 12.5, compared with nearly 16 for its industry.

In Canada, sensible financial oversight has bolstered a robust but stable national economy. The subprime mortgage mess that crashed America's economy in 2008 largely sidestepped Canada. Our prudent neighbors to the north emerged largely unscathed from the global financial crisis, a feat that continues to hold their economy and financial services sector in good stead.

Bank stocks generally enjoy tailwinds, as energy prices rebound and North America adopts the unexpected role of global growth engine. Year to date, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) is up 16% (on an adjusted basis), compared with 6.2% for the S&P 500. Shares of Bank of Nova Scotia have jumped more about 30% year to date, but there's plenty of upside left.

Scotiabank should continue its growth momentum this year and beyond. With a market cap of $65 billion and based in Toronto, Bank of Nova Scotia boasts a global diversification that gives it an edge over many of its peers.

The bank offers a wide variety of products and services, including retail, commercial, corporate and investment banking, to more than 21 million customers in more than 55 countries. The bank's forays into Latin America have paid off, while competitors have suffered from overexposure to struggling emerging-market economies in Asia.

This Canadian bank has fortress-like financials. Bank of Nova Scotia's return on equity is 13.3%, compared with the industry average of 10%. The bank's debt-equity ratio is 0.14, considerably lower than the industry average of 1.06.

Regardless of the electoral outcome in the U.S., it's a smart move to reap the growth-and-income rewards of Canada's best bank investment. And if your team lost the election... well, the Canadians would rather do without an influx of Trump-hating refugees.

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John Persinos is an investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, he owned none of the stocks mentioned. Persinos appears as a regular commentator on the financial television show "Small Cap Nation."

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