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.
Could one stock really tell you where the broad market heads? Joe Friday shared he thought so on November the 13th in the chart below. Bio-tech stock Valeant Pharma (VRX) had been slammed the prior few months and the broad market dipped along with it.
The chart below reflected the VRX was testing five support lines at one time at (3), along with oversold momentum at (1) and volume was sky high at (2), which could have reflected panic selling. All of these conditions would suggest this price point was key for the stock and maybe the broad markets.
Since the Joe Friday post, VRX is up over 28% in less than 3-weeks
It’s an unfortunate truth that, when people are worried about the future, they often put their faith in politicians to somehow make everything better.
Politicians, of course, are famous for promising panaceas for whatever is troubling voters, and they even invent new troubles to worry about, presenting themselves as the only ones who can solve these woes.
Not surprising then, that, over time, any nation may slowly deteriorate into a population of nebbishes who turn to their government to do their thinking for them and take responsibility for their futures.
Today offered a heavier than expected volume day post-holiday. The majority of this action was to the downside, but the Semiconductor Index bucked the trend. The latter index was able to push above its 200-day MA as it posted a relative advantage against the Nasdaq 100. While the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100 suffered losses today, both will be helped by strength in the Semiconductor Index. All technicals for the Semiconductor Index are in the green, with a return of the MACD to a 'buy' trigger (above the bullish zero line - a bullish development).
The Nasdaq suffered a minor loss. It wasn't able to challenge the recent high, but it's close enough ...
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As evidenced by the Greek, Chinese, and now Argentine 'jumps', the world remains increasingly aware of the inevitable worth of fiat currencies and fears the desperate acts of governments as the react to that reality (and is looking for alternatives).
This infographic explains the wide ranges of the Bitcoin universe, accompanied with quotes from some of its best-known business leaders.
Some weeks when I write this article there is little new to talk about from the prior week. It’s always the Fed, global QE, China growth, election chatter, oil prices, etc. And then there are times like this in which there is so much happening that I don’t know where to start. Of course, the biggest market-moving news came the weekend before last when Paris was put face-to-face with the depths of human depravity and savagery. And yet the stock market responded with its best week of the year. As a result, the key issues dominating the front page and election chatter have moved from the economy and jobs to national security and a real war (rather than police ...
1) The shares of one of my largest short positions (~3%), Exact Sciences, crashed by more than 46% yesterday. Below is the article I published this morning on SeekingAlpha, explaining why I think it’s still a great short and thus shorted more yesterday. Here’s a summary:
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Draft Recommendation issued yesterday is devastating for Exact Sciences’ only product, Cologuard.
I think this is the beginning of the end for the company.
My price target for the stock a year from now is $3, so I shorted more yes...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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