The positive earnings announcement by Wells Fargo on Wednesday was marred by a sell recommendation from Dick Bove and a lot of chatter about credit writedowns and mortgage servicing rights (MSRs). I wanted to add a few words about the report, MSRs, and bank stocks more generally.
First of all, this has been a very good quarter for bank earnings. Many of the big names globally have surprised to the upside. this includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, SEB in Sweden, Credit Suisse in Switzerland and on down the line. As one would expect, most banks are profiting from record low interest rates.
The question for the big banks is whether the huge writedowns they are still taking and the run-up in their stock prices since march limits any upside in valuation. For smaller banks, we should expect weaker results as they are more leveraged to the sectors of the economy like commercial real estate and construction loans which are still suffering. Goldman and Morgan Stanley should do relatively better as they are really broker-dealers and both investment banking and sales & trading are doing well right now. On the whole, I have said I think upside is limited for the sector, but downside is vast. Hence I am bearish on bank stocks.
Let’s look at Wells Fargo (WFC) as an example of what is happening.
Wells reports record profits
Wells reported net income of $32 billion, a robust operating pre-tax profit of $10.8 billion, and record net income of $3.2 billion. Sounds wonderful. What’s not to like? That was bank analysts Dick Bove’s initial impression as well. Live on-air at CNBC, he said Wells Fargo “is proving itself to be a standout.”
But, once Bove got a peek under the hood and started to crunch the numbers at Wells, he was significantly less impressed – so much so that he issued a sell rating literally nine hours later. And he took a lot of flak for this about-face.
Reports filed by banks with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation indicate that at the end of June about one-sixth of all construction loans were in trouble. With more than half a trillion dollars in such loans outstanding, that represents a source of major losses for banks.
Construction loans were highly attractive in recent years for many banks, particularly smaller ones without a national presence. One reason was that other types of loans were not easy to make. A handful of big banks came to dominate credit card loans, for example, and corporate loans were often turned into securities.
Construction loans, however, needed local expertise and were not easy to standardize. In a booming real estate market, there were few losses on such loans.
It is in commercial real estate construction — be it stores or office buildings — that the pain seems likely to rise. At the end of June, $291 billion in such loans was outstanding, down only a few billion from the peak reached earlier this year.
“On the commercial side,” said Matthew Anderson, a partner in Foresight Analytics, a research firm based in Oakland, Calif., “I think we are fairly early in the down cycle.”
Foresight estimates that 10.4 percent of commercial construction loans are troubled, but expects that to increase as the year goes on.
Construction Loans Problems By Type
Local Expertise? What Local Expertise?
One has to laugh at the statement "Construction loans, however, needed local expertise".
In regards to "local", Pray tell what did Chicago-based Corus bank know about condo construction in Florida, California, and Georgia?
Indeed, what expertise was displayed by anyone, anywhere in regards to construction loans?
How Bad An Omen?
Just how bad an omen this is for banks depends on whether or not the problem is getting worse (it is), and how much banks have allocated in loan loss provisions.
FN: The Chinese government has finally caught on to the fact that they’ve created a bubble and are trying to "talk it down". As long as the central bank and the rest of the banks continue to provide liquidity, Wen Jiabao is going to be as successful as Alan Greenspan was when he warned of "irrational exuberance" while having his foot placed firmly on the monetary accelerator.
With the conclusion of the summer political conventions in America and Labor Day approaching in the States, the race for the White House is entering its final phase. The Republican and Democrat gatherings in Cleveland and Philadelphia respectively where poles apart and presented two starkly different visions of America.
Yellen's speech pushed markets both up and down, but probably left more minds stuck in indecision than offered a clear path forward. Markets don't like indecision, which gives bears and weak longs an opportunity to sell. There are still key support levels to break, but recent weeks of tight action could lead to an unraveling.
The S&P finished as registered distribution with new 'sell' triggers in On-Balance-Volume and Directional Indicator. The index has been stuck in a relative downward turn since July (against Small Caps). This index is offering the clearest 'sell' signal.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May asked her cabinet ministers to come up with a blueprint for how their departments may be able to benefit from Britain’s exit from the European Union ahead of the Group of...
Topics: Meb tries something new in Episode 15. In “audio book” style, he walks listeners through his latest research piece: The Trinity Portfolio. “Trinity” reflects the three pillars of this investing approach: globally-diversified assets, weightings toward value and momentum investments, and active trend-following. On one hand, Trinity is broad and sturdy, rooted in respected, wealth-building investment principles. On the other hand, it’s strategic and int...
Good guy Sam Ro, now at Yahoo, tweeted out a chart by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) this morning showing that low wage job gains have outpaced gains in high wage jobs.I happen to keep charts on wage growth by industry, so I know a little about the subject. I had my usual calm and measured response.
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Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer. One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."
Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.
Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.' Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color). Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...
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