Caution: Should you dump your Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shares?

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) shares have fallen 39% in a year.

Not much has happened in that time which would perhaps justify the sudden share price fall, but it is what could happen that has investors so worried.

After all, the share market is forward-looking

Normally, for long-term investors, a falling share price would be a reason to get excited. In fact, based on last year’s dividend payout of $1.81, ANZ shares currently yield a fully franked dividend of 8%! That’s over 11.5% grossed-up for those tax-effective franking credits.

But, remember, the share market is forward-looking. And some analysts are forecasting a fall in profits and dividends over coming years.

Indeed, given the recent economic concerns from Asia and regulatory headaches at home, many analysts have become increasingly worried about ANZ’s outlook. ANZ is the only big bank with meaningful regional exposure.

This has been reflected in the ANZ share price. It’s down 39% in a year while National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) is down 34%, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) is 26% lower and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) is down 24%.

Is it a value play?

ANZ shares currently trade on a price-earnings ratio of 9x and when compared to the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEX: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) average of 15x, some would say, “that’s cheap!”

But what are you really buying if you get ANZ shares at today’s prices? Sure, the price-earnings ratio is measuring profit to share price. But we’ve already established that share markets are forward-looking. And who knows what last year’s profits are made up of.

ANZ  – like the other major banks – has extremely complicated balance sheets and very thin profit margins. Moreover, further capital raisings may be possible, and its dividend may even be cut.

So although ANZ shares are much lower today than they were 12 months ago, that doesn’t mean they’re cheap.

And for current shareholders, all you can do is weigh up the risks versus the potential rewards. That’s easier said than done.

Indeed, nobody knows for sure if the worst is over for ANZ Bank. However, personally, I'd rather look for other - faster growing - dividend shares to add to my portfolio, such as the one The Motley Fool's expert analysts hand-picked as their best dividend share idea for 2016.

Indeed, our resident dividend experts named their Top Dividend Share for 2016. Not only are the shares dirt cheap, the company is growing and trading on a 5.6% fully franked dividend yield. Simply click here to gain access to this comprehensive FREE investment report, including the name of this fast growing ASX dividend share. No credit card required!

Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any company mentioned. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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