Why this financial services play looks a better buy than AMP Limited

The biggest near term gains in AMP’s share price may now be in the past.

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Less than six months ago the $15.5 billion blue-chip insurer and financial services company AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) looked a very appealing investment opportunity. Its share price had dropped to nearly $4, which represented a decade low level that had only been exceeded during the GFC and during a period from mid-2011 to mid-2012.

Fast forward six months to today and AMP’s share price is trading near its 52-week high at a price of $5.33. Those recent gains represent a share price surge of 20% and compare very favourably with the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO), which is up less than 2%.

As a result of those gains, AMP is now trading on a forward price-to-earnings (PE) multiple of 16. While that’s not excessive and is lower than some of its peers such as Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN), it is high enough that outperformance from this point looks less promising.

A better opportunity

Given the very full pricing of many large and small-cap stocks there is a very real risk of overpaying in the current market, but despite the lack of value on display there are still opportunities. One stock which could be worthy of a closer look by investors is stockmarket operator ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX). The near-monopoly provider of equity and futures exchange services is trading on a forward PE of 18.2 and with a forecast fully franked dividend yield of 5%. Given the long-term growth potential and entrenched market position of the ASX, these investment metrics look mighty appealing.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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