Spanish savings banks have begun selling off the large property portfolios they acquired as collateral from loan defaults, in an effort to improve solvency ratios, a move that risks further falls in property values that could impair the value of their asset books.
In Spain, the global financial crisis that erupted in 2007 ended a real-estate and construction-based asset boom, plunging the country into a recession that has yet to end, even as many other European economies have returned to growth.
As the unemployment rate has soared to more than 19%, residential-property buyers have defaulted on loans in massive numbers, as have property developers, overleveraged in a moribund market. As lenders have assumed the collateral on defaulted loans, local financial institutions—particularly unlisted savings banks—have collected properties valued at about €8.5 billion ($12.2 billion) over the past 12 months.
I was fairly confident this would come to pass. Readers should reference this post from January: "Reggie Middleton on the New Global Macro - the Forensic Analysis of a Spanish Bank ". The first quarter was profitable, but that big bear rally really threw this off. The investment thesis is still sound, though. I may update this if the opportunity presents itself.
In Spain, BBVA, the second largest domestic bank, could see a massive deterioration in its real estate and consumer loan portfolio. The Spanish real estate sector is making a high horsepower a U-turn after years of a massive housing bubble that has burst - culminating in an unemployment rate that has risen to an outrageous 13.4% level. The power skid is showing no signs of reaching an inflection point, and we believe is only in the beginning throes of a sharp downturn. In addition, the banks' other key growth areas including Mexico, the U.S and South America are witnessing a slowdown in economic activity, restricting BBVA's growth prospectus amid the current turbulent environment.
With increasingly challenging economic conditions in each of these economies, BBVA's asset quality has deteriorated sharply with non-performing loans rising to 36% of its tangible equity without corresponding (equal) increase in provisions. As the bank deals with these tough times ahead, we expect BBVA's bottom line growth to remain subdued due to a slower credit off-take and higher provisions in the coming quarters.Disclosure: no positions