The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price is having another strong day today. At the time of writing, Westpac shares are up a healthy 1.85% to $27.04 a share. Earlier in the trading day, the ASX bank was doing even better, reaching a new 52-week high of $27.12 a share. Today’s gains put Westpac up 6.75% over the past month, 37.75% year to date, and a rewarding 49% over the past 12 months.
In saying that, these gains aren’t enough to make up for Westpac’s longer-term performance. Over the past 5 years, the banking giant is still down 5.7%, and it still remains around 30% off of its all-time high of nearly $40 a share that we saw way back in 2015.
Still, it has still been an unquestionably strong year for Westpac shareholders. As it has been for most of the ASX banks. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) has fared even better than Westpac. It’s also up today (1.12%) and actually hit yet another all-time (not 52-week) high of $106.57 just after midday today. CBA shares are now up 52.3% over the past year.
But back to Westpac. Well, as an ASX bank, Westpac’s fortunes are closely tied to the broader Australian economy (more so than most ASX shares). As such, it’s possible that Westpac shares are feeling the love from the rebounding Australian economy.
The ‘economic recovery’ narrative was bolstered further just this morning, with the release of the ABS’s unemployment data for May this morning. The ABS data showed Australian unemployment falling to below pre-COVID levels, an arguable sign that the economy is going from strength to strength. This could possibly be feeding into the Westpac share price’s new highs today.
Could Westpac shares be a buy today?
So with Westpac at a new 52-week high today, could this ASX bank be a buy? Well, one broker who thinks so is the investment bank, Goldman Sachs. Goldman has rated Westpac as a buy, with a 12-month price target of $29.03. Goldman reckons Westpac shares are still cheap and thinks the bank will be able to grow its earnings nicely over the next few years thanks to its large capital base.