AMP Limited vs. Magellan Financial Group Ltd: Which share is the better buy today?

Thanks to a solid rebound over the past two months the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is only registering a decline of 1% since the beginning of calendar year 2016.

In contrast, the share price of leading global fund manager Magellan Financial Group Ltd (ASX: MFG) has fallen by 22% and is currently trading at around $21.20

Meanwhile, financial services giant AMP Limited’s (ASX: AMP) share price has actually gained just under 1% in 2016 with its share price trading near $5.90.

Has the recent sell-off in Magellan’s share price created an enticing buying opportunity, or could further falls lie ahead? Perhaps the entrenched market position of AMP is the better bet?

In my opinion the long-term growth potential of Magellan is superior to AMP.

Firstly, Magellan’s management has proven incredibly adept at attracting money into its funds. This ability has not only led to the group achieving massive scale in a relatively short period of time, but importantly Magellan’s business is capable of handling billions more.

Secondly, with a focus on investing internationally and a solid track record, Magellan is ideally placed to benefit from the need and desire of domestic investors to allocate a larger portion of their portfolios to international equities.

With respect to AMP, while the company does have positives attributes, there are a number of concerns. The effects regulatory changes could have and the difficulties AMP has in growing its already giant market share are two major factors.

Magellan trades on a trailing price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of approximately 21 times. In comparison, AMP has a trailing PE of about 15 times. Given the quality of Magellan’s business and that its growth prospects appear to me to be superior, I believe this higher multiple is justified and in fact the current share price is starting to look appealing.

Even better than AMP and Magellan?

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. 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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