Bank On Jeffries For "Hidden Yields"

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Jefferies Financial Group (JEF) has been selling off its side hustles to focus solely on financial services. With all the money sloshing around, this sector is a great place to be. Investment banking is the firm’s bread and butter. Jefferies is one of the biggest merger and acquisitions (M&A) player that most investors have never heard of.

Investment bankers take a percentage cut of the acquisition or offering price. They mint money when markets are hot. While competitors Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM), and Morgan Stanley (MS) have their fingers in many other financial businesses, Jefferies is laser-focused on growing its investment banking revenues.

Jefferies has been around for decades and has impressively grown its business through booms and busts. Through the years it has compounded revenues by nearly 20% per year. Last year’s results were surprisingly strong, considering the circumstances.

Jefferies’ renewed focus has boosted its profitability. Five years ago, the firm had a negative return on equity (ROE). This means that every dollar it invested in itself lost money. Not good.

Today, its ROE sits at a (much) more respectable 13.2%. That’s more in line with the lifetime return of our high yield portfolio (which is perched at 14%+ per year). Looking ahead, this stock is a dividend double waiting to happen. There are two reasons why.

First, Jefferies has tripled its payout over the past five years, but its stock price is just now starting to catch up. It would have to double from here, plus some, to come from behind.

Second, the company is buying back a boatload of shares every year. Since 2016, Jefferies has reduced its float by nearly one-third. These types of repurchases are the gifts that keep giving because they juice everything on a “per share” basis—including the dividend. This cash cow’s shareholder returns are only going to get sweeter as deals heat up. More M&A means more dividends, buybacks, and price gains for us.

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