New York Community Bancorp's CEO Presents at Barclays Americas Select Franchise Conference (Transcript)

| About: New York (NYCB)

New York Community Bancorp, Inc. (NYB) Barclays Americas Select Franchise Conference May 16, 2012 5:45 AM ET


Joseph Ficalora – President and Chief Executive Officer


I am very pleased to present our next speaker, Joe Ficalora, CEO of New York Community Bank. Many of you may know Joe. He has been a regular participant at this conference. Joe has helped build New York Community from a small New York based thrift into the 21st largest bank holding company in the United States with $43 billion of assets. Joe has often provided very good color and insight with his conference. So with that I will hand it over to him.

Joseph Ficalora

Thank you and good morning all. I thank you for joining me this morning. As was mentioned, the company had $43 billion. This is the 21st largest bank holding company in the US. Our deposits represent a position about 23rd in the nation, and our principal asset, which is multi-family loans at $17.8 billion, currently is the largest portfolio of that particular asset in the New York market.

Our market cap at March 31 were $6.1 billion. So we are actually on sale today, and our total return on investment at that date was in excess of 3000%, and that is a combination of the benefit of the dividend, as well as the nine stock splits, and so on. As you could see here, the bank has 276 branches in five states, and as we will discuss later the bank has done extremely well in those states with regard to retail banking.

Our business model is to acquire banks for their deposit base, and to build typically our loan book, which we believe is amongst the best in the nation. So our first quarter performance indicates earnings of about $118 million, earnings per share at about $0.27, a total return on assets of about 1.4, the return on average tangible at 15.95. The margin stability at 3.24 is pretty much consistent with what we have been discussing.

The fact is that we are amongst the most efficient banks in the nation, have always been, expect to continue to be. So we are at about 40% or so. The efficiency ratio as you see here, it is 41.39 at March 31st. The asset quality measures continue to compare price favorably to the industry as a whole. As you can see, our non-performing loans at 115 compared very nicely to the 266 for other banks. The March 31 numbers also show that the non-performing assets at 0.93 compares nicely with the other banks, and our net charge-offs, which is by far the most important distinction is at 0.05, and that compares to 0.34.

And that is for the period. Over the course of the cycle, the number is dramatically different. As you can see here, we have a very strong capital position. We are at 7.95 on the tangible -- that is 12/31. At 3/31, we are at 7.79. Our tangible stockholders equity is $3.1 billion, and our individual banks have substantial capital as you can see between the community bank total capital ratio was 13.42, and the commercial bank is at 17.69. The numbers are very attractive compared to industries, as well as historical. There is no question that over the course of a decade, we have never had an occasion to lose money with regard to a cycle turn, and go into our capital position.

So whereas other banks during stressful periods have lost material amounts of their capital, in some cases, enough capital so as to go out of business, we in fact, during cycle turns use very de minimis amounts of earnings, and therefore we do not lose capital as a result of our lending practices. So, our business model is consistent. We build value on multi-family lending. This represents about 67% of our loan book today.

Our strong credit standards and superior quality over the course of time has reflected consistent, very favorable comparisons. Our residential mortgage banking is producing significant amounts of earnings, without there being any risk. So the risk to us with regards to that business is almost non-existent because we’re doing extraordinarily high cycle lending about 7.70, and we’re doing low LTVs, and all of this is not staying in our portfolio. All of this is being sold.

So the likelihood that some of this gets put back is almost non-existent. I believe in the two years or so that we have been doing this, with 80,000 odd loans, we have only had one loan that actually has come back to us, and there is really no issue. We are not going to lose any money on that loan. So it is a very, very safe position that we are taking.

As mentioned, we have a very strong efficiency ratio and we grow through acquisition, the 10 deals that we have done over time doesn’t include the one that we currently are discussing that will be closed, Aurora Bank, will be closed during this quarter. It is about a $2.3 billion deposit deal. It is only a deposit deal. We do not take any assets in that deal, and they paid us $24 million to do the deal.

So our focus on multi-family lending, on rent regulated buildings enables us to distinguish ourselves from our industry peers by the overall performance decade after decade after decade. So 64.2% of the rental housing market in New York City is rent regulated. The rent regulated buildings are significantly more stable during credit cycle turns. Obviously market lenders are doing great when market values are going up, and doing terrible when market values are coming down.

Our typical experience is that the value of our buildings since we lend on cash flow, which is the rental is very stable during periods of change. So even in the last cycle, when unemployment in New York City was 12%, when there was massive amounts of vacancies in multi-family buildings throughout the New York City market, all of our buildings were fully occupied. We were lending more money on buildings that were being purchased at significant discounts, and we actually grew our earnings and our business in the depths of the cycle that was taken out borrowing in America [ph] dollar.

So our focus on multi-family lending as a niche has produced over the course of decades consistency in how we perform. So multi-family loans are actually less expensive to generate, they are less expensive to service, and we lose significantly less on them over time. And the effect of all of that is that we build capital with more consistency over time. And for investors, the ability to build capital even in a down turning cycle is significantly more important than overbuilding capital in a robust environment.

So, in terms of our lending, our multi-family and our commercial loans and to a great degree our commercial loans are really multi-family loans. They are mixed use properties, typically the first floor is retail, and the 10 stories above could be rent-controlled, rent stabilized. So when we mix the numbers between our commercial and our multi-family, it is really not stating where we really are. So a great deal of our portfolio is in fact multi-family, all of our portfolio is below market.

In essence, when we lend we typically lend less dollars, whether we are lending on what is classically a commercial property or otherwise. So for example, we might do 45% LTVs on a commercial property, whereas others might be willing to lend 65% or of course some other number, we lend very conservatively, and the proof in the process is always evident in the ultimate disposition of the asset.

Our prepayment penalties range five points in years one through five. We typically collect far more in prepayment penalties than others because we typically deal with people, who are used to paying prepayments. Our lending produced multi-family loan portfolio, as you can see here from eight through 12. It has been going up pretty steadily, but not by large amounts.

This is not the environment in which we are aggressively lending. The percentages of loans held as I mentioned, on multi-family is at 67%, average principal balance is $4.1 million. Our expected weighted average life is 2.9 years, and the first quarter originations are at 1.1 billion. Last year we originated more loans than we have ever originated. We originated over $8 billion in portfolio assets. We also originated substantial amount of assets for sale that is through our mortgage company.

Our mortgage company originates house loans typically from all over the country, and we sell them typically to Fannie and Freddie. But we also are originating house loans for other banks and other players. The loans that we do are principally New York City loans. So this number says about 80% of our loan is in New York City, clearly that is the focus of our lending.

Commercial as you could see, the structure of the loan is identical. So the people who find this appealing are in many cases the very same people. So we have people that are in our commercial portfolio or in our multi-family portfolio that are exactly the same. Same owners, same structure, in very many ways the same performance metrics. So as you could see the average principal balance is 4.3 million, whereas in multi it is 4.1 million. The expected weighted average life on the multi is down to 2.9 years, in the commercial it is 3.1 years.

So the similarities are very evident in the way we do this business. And again roughly 74% of all of those loans are in the New York City area. This comparison is a comparison of our non-performing loans and non-performing assets. It basically shows you over the course of the cycle that we are in right now how this has been changing, and as you could see, in both cases the numbers are coming down rather nicely, and this doesn’t always change.

This US slide shows the net charge-offs. This is the really important slide. Even though we get non-performing at relatively large numbers, our charge-offs are at extremely small numbers. So as you can see in the prior cycle, other banks in the period indicated 89 through 93, other banks lost 540 basis points, we lost in that entire cycle 17 basis points. There are very few banks that lend as many dollars as we lend in a market as volatile as the New York market, a market that has significant amounts of lost during that cycle by banks, and we only lost 17 basis points.

In the current cycle, different time, other banks in fact had 947 basis points in charge-offs in the period indicated here that is 2008 through the first quarter of ’12. In our circumstance, we lost 77 basis points. So, the attractiveness of our lending continues. One of the differences between the two periods, in the period ’89 through ’93, there were only our assets. In this period, we have residue assets from 10 deals. So, we did in fact have losses that were on assets that we never originated.

So those losses are in the numbers, and the reality is that the losses are behind us because once we have gotten rid of those assets, we have gotten rid of them. So as you can see here, we had 0.05% in the first quarter, and we would expect this year to track very, very nicely against the prior couple of years. As you see here, non-performing loans likewise improved, but the biggest difference is in charge-offs. A guy’s portfolio can go bad, he can go into bankruptcy, everything gets produced in court, other banks lose 40%, 50% of their asset. We lose 5%, or not. We have had circumstances where we have been party to bankruptcies, where our assets get paid everything, all the principal, all of the interests, all of the costs, and others in the same bankruptcy are looking at substantial losses.

And that is the dramatic difference in how we lend in the first place. We see it on a regular basis. We actually know that people are getting loans from us when they could have gotten more money from somebody else, or we’re not doing a loan because somebody has been offering them significantly more dollars than we are willing to let them have.

So that has happened time and time again, and it is only truly evident when the cycle turns, when you’re actually dealing with the loss of value in the marketplace. Okay, so the quality of our assets reflects the nature of our multi-family lending niche and our strong underwriting standards. As we have mentioned many, many times, we are conservative underwriters. Our conservative loan to value ratios, our conservative debt coverage ratios, we have minimums of 120 and 130 on CRE. The multi-family and CRE loans are based on the lower of economic core market value. We do 2 to 3 appraisals before we do a loan. We actually do an inspection.

The active involvement of our board is not common in banking, where board members actually go and inspect the property. When we are dealing with a new property owner, the property owner needs to be there. We’re not interested in just seeing a super, or some manager. We are interested in seeing the owner. The fact is that because we are so consistent, and we have been doing this with such consistency for four decades that we have very consistent better than market results.

So, our risk averse mix of loans, as indicated here, continues to reflect that we do not have the kind of balance sheet exposure that most banks have. So as you can see, C&I loans 2.2%, ADC loans 1.7%, 1 to 4 family loans 0.4%. So the numbers are extremely small with regard to the kinds of assets that many, many of the banks lose large amounts of money on.

The ability for us to go through multiple cycles, not just this cycle, multiple cycles with consistency comes from the consistent ways in which we choose to lend. So the loans in the ORE [ph] acquired in our FDIC assisted transaction are covered by a loss share, thus mitigating credit risk. So when you look at covered loans, in our portfolio, we in fact have 80:20, and 95:5 in covered ratios. In fact we have the last 95:5 at the FDIC issue. And we also very conservatively wrote off of the $6 billion that we took, we write-off a billion dollars. So the risk to us is extremely small in that entire portfolio based on guarantees and what we left ourselves exposed to.

So the numbers already reflect, we probably will have significant recoveries on many of the assets that are being ultimately disposed of because we have written off so much of them. So, our residential mortgage banking platform, which we mentioned earlier, is an aggregator of the agency conforming, 1 to 4 family loans. As you can see here, this is our quarterly production number. We expect the quarters ahead to be rather strong. Obviously things could change dramatically, and rates could change dramatically. I do not believe that rates are changing dramatically.

So for the three months ended 3/31, our new 1 to 4 family originations were $3.3 billion that was in the quarter. The percentage sold to GSEs was 98% of the loans that we originated we sold to GSEs. Our average FICOs were 773. Our average loan to value ratio was 68%. That is in the first quarter of ’12. Most assets were discounted dramatically. Most houses are being purchased at extraordinarily attractive pricing.

And in that environment our average loan to value ratio is 68%. We rank 14th amongst the aggregators of loans, and certainly our first quarter mortgage banking produced some originations, $40 million for the company as a whole. So this is a very good line of business. What is different about it than our principle asset business is actually very good because it is kind of a counterbalance.

Loans can be originated and purchased in all 50 states. Our loan production is driven by our proprietary real-time, web accessible, mortgage banking technology platform. We did not originally expect to keep this line of business, but before we would sell it, we wanted to be sure what we were dealing with. So we did an awful lot of due diligence with others, some of the biggest best players in the nation came, and wanted to either buy or partner with regard to this business model. And we decided it was good enough to keep. So that is why we are in this business.

Our proprietary business process [ph] security controls for lending process. That is why the performance metrics are as good as they are. While mitigating business and regulatory risks, we in fact originate with both speed and accuracy loans that we have very little expectation that we will ever get back. As a result, our clients cost effectively compete with the nation’s largest mortgage lenders across the country. As a result, 950 approved clients that is who we are in fact working with on our platform. Some of them are community banks, some of them credit unions, some of them mortgage companies.

Obviously, we have mortgage brokers as well. The vast majorities of loans funded are agency eligible 1 to 4 family loans. Although we have begun to do jumbos, this is not a jumbo market, and some of you are aware of that with regard to others, who are having some difficulty in the jumbo market. We could do substantially more in the way of jumbo loans. Obviously, the platform lends itself well to doing that. There will be a time when that product will flow through this system very nicely. 100% of the loans funded are full doc, prime credit loans. We do loans that are not likely to be returned.

As we have mentioned on a couple of occasions, our efficiency ratio is driven by several factors. We have had strong efficiency ratios for all of our public life. We have been I believe, in the top 2% of banks with regard to efficiency for all the years that we are public. As you can see here, the franchise expansion has largely stemmed from mergers and acquisitions; we generally do not engage in de novo branch development.

We do not have underperforming branches that are waiting to build a deposit base at high cost. Our multi-family and commercial real estate lending are both broker-driven, meaning other people pay the broker, we do not pay brokers. And the fact is that we generate those loans with significantly less cost than other people would generate loans at.

Products and services are typically developed by third-party providers and the sale of these products generates additional revenue for us. 42 of our branches are located in-store, in-store branches are lower-cost branches for sure, and they add dramatically to the service model. We in fact are able to accommodate people. In some cases, our depositors bank in three different branches, one where they work, one where they live and one where they shop. And in many cases, most of their activity is where they shop. So we are just more convenient.

We have some locations where our customers are actually using our branches 60 hours a week. They have availability of banking because in-store at different hours than branches that are located in commuter areas, or branches that are located in the work areas, or branches that are located residentially. So, we acquire our deposits primarily through earnings-accretive acquisitions. When we get deposits, we get them with dramatic enhancements to our earnings, as well as to our capital. So the deals that we do are designed to be shareholder friendly deals.

We do not buy banks to be bigger. Most people don’t even know what bank I worked for, because although you know me as NYB, most depositors know Roslyn, and they know Queens County, and they know Richmond County. The brand identity that is strongest in the community we serve is the identity we keep. Even though we attach to that identity NYCB, many of the people just know they are always going to Queens County.

So, who is NYCB in their community bank. A lot of people don’t know that, but that doesn’t matter because they are depositors. So the good news for us is that the consistency, and how we approach the markets we serve is not just how we were dealing with that market, but how the predecessor bank was dealing with that market. So for example, Ohio Savings Bank was established in 1889. When we acquired that bank we returned to the name, Ohio Savings Bank. The community really loved that. It was much more important to them than most people would think. But it was very evident that they really cared about that.

Well, I don’t know if this battery is weak, but I’m not sleeping up here folks, although it might happen. Can I skip a page? Yes. You know, we have completed 10 acquisitions, and one is in the pipe right now. It is just a deposit acquisition, $2.3 billion. But as you could see we have done different kinds of deals, even though they are different they were all the same in one regard. They all make money for shareholders, and that is the important ingredient. That is the common denominator.

And certainly when we look to the future, we see the opportunity to do deals as the business model of the company. We grow by acquisition. We grow by doing accretive deals. The whole goal of the company is to build shareholder value. So each of these deals in their own way, some of them big, some of them small, have added dramatically or less dramatically even a small one, to the overall intent of the company to build shareholder value.

When we double the company, the benefits to shareholders are huge. So, those first three deals doubled the company three times in a row, and as a result we were trading at nearly 11 times tangible. We have traded for years at 5 multiples beyond our sector on earnings. So the ability to be recognized by the investing community as a truly outperforming company is in our history. We haven’t done a really big deal for a while. The way we are currently structured, our balance sheet today lends itself well to doing a really big deal.

And given the fact that there is this odd official number $50 billion, as being a trigger point for additional burdens, costs and otherwise in which we would have to approach things. We have decided that we are going to hold off and wait for a really big deal. The good news, we have the structure that will lend itself to a successful big deal, and we do believe the marketplace will provide a really good deal that will be beneficial to all shareholders, ours and the other party’s as well.

So, our deposit growth has been largely acquisition driven. We have identified the various acquisitions as we have occurred, and the deals that you see here reflected. And you know, the fact that we have compounded annual growth rates on demand deposits 24.5%, on core deposits 21.7% and so on that is from doing acquisitions. At the end of the day the company what it has to work with is driven not by the way we choose to open a new branch, the way we choose to acquire a bank. In each case, we are acquiring an existing depository. So that existing depository lends itself well to this slide which shows that we have compounded annual growth rates in our multi-family portfolio for example with 19.8%.

And you could see here as well, the effect of each of the deals that we have done. So, all of this effort is for this slide. So, this is not something that is common. The numbers that you see in brown here, that color kind of fits the numbers. It is overall return 244% that is for banking generally. That is the total return to shareholders, you know, for the period reflected there.

And our compounded annual growth rate since the IPO in value provided to our shareholders, 29.4%. So that comes up to over 3000% total return to shareholders. As best as I know there are no banks that have had that kind of return to their shareholders in their public life. So this number is very consistent with how we choose to structure ourselves to execute on deals, to avoid risk, to pay substantial dividends. Although we have repurchased about $1 billion worth of our stock over the course of time, we have come to conclude that dividend is the place that we like to return value to our shareholders.

So this kind of value creation is not common in banking. It may not be that common in any kind of equity investment, given the circumstances. This takes into account the various problems that the equity markets have had, and certainly that banking has had in this cycle. And as you could see it runs from when we became public on November 23 of ’93 when we were a decade old, I think our total return to shareholders, and I don’t have it for now, but when we were a decade-old, our total return to shareholders was better than that of every US equity, excepting for 6 and that included Microsoft and a couple of well-known names.

But in banking, banks just do not have this kind of return to shareholders. So it is not just our dedication. It is our results. And hopefully if you have any questions, I could answer them.

Question-and-Answer Session

Joseph Ficalora

Here comes the microphone.

Unidentified Participant

In the next sort of 5 or 10 years, is the supply of rent controlled buildings going to be decreasing, does that constrain your business model going forward?

Joseph Ficalora

Well, you know, maybe 10 years out there will be fewer rent controlled buildings, but there may be significantly larger numbers of rent stabilized apartments. So rent regulated buildings is what we lend on. So there is increasing rent regulated buildings in the New York market, but there is decreasing rent-controlled buildings. The differentiation, rent-controlled is older and the values are typically lower. Rent stabilized is still occurring, those buildings are being added to the marketplace that are rent stabilized even today. So we will have a change. It will not be a change that will result us not being able to lend more safely than others, it will be a change that will change the character somewhat of the tenancy in some of the buildings. The really older buildings have rent controlled tenants. The newer buildings, decade-old, 15 years old, in some cases have no rent controlled tenant.

Unidentified Participant


Joseph Ficalora

No, it changes it to some degree, but not to a degree that would change our ability to lend on large dollar volumes of low market rentals. Okay.

Unidentified Participant

Yes, thanks. Can you just talk about the current outlook for M&A, and how big of a deal you think you could do without having to raise equity?

Joseph Ficalora

Well, you know, the -- in any deal we consider and we consider lots of deals. So as is normally the case, we have announced 11 days. We have done work on hundreds and hundreds of deals. So, the fact is that this market is producing large numbers of things to entertain. For the most part, we are not entertaining smaller deals. Very, very rare circumstance we did entertain one small deal. We pay the pricing -- it is on the market on that deal, but the fact is we did entertain a small deal.

We are more likely to do a very large deal, and certainly we have reason to believe that there will be opportunities to do large deals in the market in the period ahead. And as a result they will have substantial benefit to the pro forma company, to our shareholders, as is the case with each of the big deals we have done. For example, when we announced our first deal, we had done due diligence on CFS three times. From announcement to close the stock was up 78%. That is not a bad thing.

Obviously when the marketplace looks at the details of a deal, and finds it so attractive that they buy the stock up dramatically, everybody wins. The seller wins, the buyer wins, the shareholders win, and within four months of closing that deal we doubled the bank yet again. So, we closed on November 30. Our next deal was announced on March 27 of the very next year.

So the ability to create value is greatly enhanced by the size of an accretive deal. Can you issue stock and still do a very good deal, the answer was absolutely yes. If you have enough accretion to earnings, you have the ability to build capital at the very same time that you are building earnings, and that mix pro forma is just better for shareholders. This is a time when people have a tendency to like whether they be regulators or investors they like to see capital.

Do we need as much capital as we have today? That is a very hard thing to quantify. The reality is that we have never had to go into capital based on our lending practices. So in a cycle turn, or in a stress period, there is no likelihood we are going to lose a lot of our capital as a result of our lending. So we can look at a stress test and see that there is little reason why an analysis of our performance metrics would result in us losing capital, because we have a long, consistent history of performing extremely well under stress.

So the likelihood that the differentiation between us and others in a stressful period ahead, and I think we have more reason to consider a stressful period ahead than a better period ahead. What we would all like to see and what we will see could very well be very different. We would love to see everything getting really nice, and the whole world’s economy is stabilizing, and people aren’t going to be taking losses in their equities, or in their bank or whatever, but that is not likely to happen.

It is far more likely that there is going to be more stress in the period ahead, rather than less stress in the period ahead. Now, I’m not saying that briefly. The reality is that we do well in stress, but all of us as people will not do well in the kind of stress that we are likely to see in the period ahead. That is unfortunate.

Sometimes change is very difficult, and the kind of change that is in front of us is not necessarily the best of things for all people. So I think we need to be prepared to deal with adversity because there is likely to be adversity in the period ahead.

Unidentified Participant

Two questions, I think last time you were here, you were saying that the GSE have started to do their own multi-family homes lending, and that was -- you weren’t very happy about that I think, what…

Joseph Ficalora

Well, with the GSEs, actually the last time I was here was a year ago, the GSEs got out of the market a little bit in 2008, and they got back into the market. The government ultimately is going to decide what the GSEs will and won’t do. And the fact is that there has been some changes in who is making those decisions, but the GSEs are still active in multi-family, as well as obviously in 1 to 4 family. We contemplate they went into conservatorship in 2008, and while in conservatorship, they went from 50% odd market share to 90% odd market share. That really sounds like a good business model.

How many companies can go bankrupt, and double their business. So, you know, the reality is that in every conversation with anybody relevant that I have had in the last weeks, months, the GSEs will have a diminishing share of all markets including the multi-family market, although there has been a comment made by Shawn Donovan that the administration does not intend on dealing with the GSEs until ’13 or ’14. Hopefully they don’t have the opportunity to deal with the GSEs in ’13 and ’14.

But the reality is that these are things that other people decide, and if the GSEs are still active in the market place that will have a profound impact on a great deal that goes on. But it won’t affect us dramatically. GSEs are not currently the parties taking share out of our market. They are doing a lot of multi-family nationally, where there are no other lenders. But they are not doing as much multi-family in the New York market.

But they have an effect on interest rates. So the rates that all banks are in are being decided by the GSEs. That is on 1 to 4 family, as well as on multi-family. So interest rates are decided by the government really.

Unidentified Participant

Second question, on acquisitions, obviously when you were small, the small acquisitions didn’t take so much of manpower, I mean, but as you get bigger you need, now you are the 21st biggest bank, to do a big deal you need a bit -- it is going to require an awful lot more manpower. So, the number of deals you can do is going to be a lot less than, and the risk surrounding those [ph] are going to be quite big because you are buying much -- because you are going to buying a much bigger thing?

Joseph Ficalora

Well that makes sense. The reality is that proportionately, we are not going to buy a complex bank, unless that complex bank is so devastated that most of what caused them to sell isn’t on the table. Doing a deal with a regulator greatly changes that risk in doing the deal. But your point is very valid, whether it be our people, or the people that are involved in the other entity, we have to integrate systems. We have to deal with existing assets, disposition of assets, there are plenty of tools, plenty of people available in the marketplace to do that analysis.

They don’t have to be the people that are on staff, in many cases they are the people that get paid millions of dollars to participate in that analysis. So, we will in all cases, no matter how big the bank is, we will do detailed due diligence. We will understand the nature of the risks that we face, and we will deal with them accordingly.

Unidentified Participant


Joseph Ficalora

Okay, thank you.

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