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 fresh rumors springing late on Friday that "this" just may be the weekend Greece - with close to no funds left in either the financial or government sector - imposes capital controls, a precursor to a full-fledged Grexit, the situation in Athens is on a knife's edge. Yesterday is also when the Syriza government submitted its list of 18 proposed reforms to the Troika: a reform package which the Guardian dubs "reform-for-cash", as Greece hopes the roughly €3 billion...
Berkshire Hathaway’s latest big deal is quite a mouthful
WARREN BUFFETT says he likes to buy companies that are easy to understand and are performing well. His latest deal, the $50 billion acquisition of Kraft Foods that was announced on March 25th, passes only one of those tests. Most people can get their heads around the slices of processed cheese and hot dogs that Kraft churns out—indeed Mr Buffett, known to favour plain fare, would probably like to get his lips round them, too. But as a business, Kraft is a bit of a mess.
Last year its revenues were stagnant and its volu...
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
Friday was a mixed bag of economic data. Hopes for an upward revision to Third Estimate of Q4 GDP were disappointed when the BEA left the annualized rate at 2.2%. The final Michigan Consumer Sentiment for March was an improvement on the preliminary reading, but it was below the February final and well off the January 11-year high. The S&P 500 spent the day in a narrow range, ending with a modest 0.24% gain, which snapped a four-day selloff. The index was down 2.33% for the week, its second worst weekly performance of 2015 (the worst being the -2.77% plunge in late January).
The yield on the 10-year Note fell 7 bps to 1.95%.
Well, it didn’t take long for the bulls to jump on their buying opportunity, with a little help from the bulls’ friend in the Fed. In fact, despite huge daily swings in the market averages driven by daily news regarding timing of interest rate hikes, the strength in the dollar, and oil prices, trading actually has been quite rational, honoring technical formations and support levels and dutifully selling overbought conditions and buying when oversold. Yes, the tried and true investing clichés continue to work -- “Don’t fight the Fed,” and “The trend is your friend.”
In this weekly update, I give my view of the cur...
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While I'm not going to argue the point about the possibility that Bitcoin drops to $1, or less, (that could happen yet, but not for the reasons you propose) I felt it necessary to point out something you seem to have overlooked.
While it's likely that the US government watching Bitco...
Bullish trades abound in Cypress Semiconductor options today, most notably a massive bull call spread initiated in the July expiry contracts. One strategist appears to have purchased 30,000 of the Jul 16.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.89 each and sold the same number of Jul 19.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.22 apiece. Net premium paid to put on the spread amounts to $0.67 per contract, thus establishing a breakeven share price of $16.67 on the trade. Cypress shares reached a 52-week high of $16.25 back on Friday, March 13th, and would need to rally 4.6% over the current level to exceed the breakeven point of $16.25. The spread generates maximum potential profits of $2.33 per contract in the event that CY shares surge more than 20% in the next four months to reach $19.00 by July expiration. Shar...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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 email@example.com 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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