Count Credit Suisse's Moshe Orenbuch as surprised about the Fed's denial of Citigroup's (C -0.5%) capital return plan. Maybe Citi is just too tough for regulators to get their arms around as it is the most complicated of all the bank holding companies.
Included in the Credit Suisse report is this handy chart of dividends, buybacks, and payout ratios for all of the CCAR banks for 2013 and 2014. Things are loosening up - the median payout ratio (includes dividends and buybacks) this year of 71% compares to 59% in 2013. The dividend payout ratio rises to 26% from 23%.
It helps to be smaller - among the TBTFs, Citi's payout ratio is just 8%, BofA (BAC) 37%, JPMorgan (JPM) 56%, Morgan Stanley (MS) 41%. Wells Fargo is above the median though, being allowed a payout of 79%.
The regionals (KRE), trust banks, and credit card companies - for the most part - were all allowed payout ratios above the median.
The strongest capital returns vs. CS's expectations are those for BNY Mellon (BK), Capital One (COF), KeyCorp (KEY), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN), PNC Financial, and Wells Fargo.
It's a slow grind for bank capital returns (at least those subject to the CCAR), notes Goldman' Richard Ramsden, with payout ratios boosted just four percentage points to 62% this year. There are clear winners, he says: The credit card companies led by AXP and COF and the trust banks led by BK. Regional banks (KRE) boosted returns but generally fell short of expectations (with HBAN and PNC being the exceptions). Worst-performing were the TBTFs, though JPM and WFC were positives.
"CCAR highlighted the challenges large-caps have in returning excess capital," he says, with Citigroup's (C) failure a reminder the process is unpredictable. With all that excess capital remaining on the balance sheet, Ciit's 2015 goal of a 10% ROTCE appears unlikely to be met.
For Bank of America (BAC), it's resubmission - a better outcome than outright failure - reminds that even well-capitalized banks are "bound by stressed capital and could have trouble returning outsized capital."
Regions Financial (RF) increases quarterly dividend 67% to $0.05 per share, sets $350M buyback. (PR)
KeyCorp (KEY) increases dividend 18% to $0.065 per share, sets $542M buyback. (PR)
PNC Financial (PNC) has no detail yet on dividend change, sets $1.5B buyback, including up to $200M related to employee benefit plans. (PR)
Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) is approved for 8.3% dividend boost to $0.13 per share and $669M in buybacks. Additional repurchases can be made with any gains from the sale of its Vantiv stake. Shares -0.5% AH. (PR)
The Federal Reserve is due to say today whether it approves banks' plans to pay dividends and/or repurchase stock. The process is spread out over a week so that banks can alter their programs if they don't receive Fed authorization.
Last year, the Fed told JPMorgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) to change their capital-allocation plans.
The Fed's decision will come a week after it said that 29 out of 30 banks had passed its stress tests.
More on Zions (ZION): The failure likely has something to do with CDOs on its books backed by trust-preferred securities. The bank signaled earlier this year it would likely resubmit its capital plan to the Fed as the test's calculation of its capital ratio wouldn't reflect Zion's planned sale of these.
Much of the financial sector is lit up bright green, continuing to outperform following yesterday's suggestion by the FOMC and Janet Yellen that rate hikes could come sooner than expected. XLF +1.1%, KBE +1.6%, KRE +1.6%.
At new 52-week or even multi-year highs are JPMorgan (JPM +2.3%), Wells Fargo (WFC +1.7%), Morgan Stanley (MS +1.4%), and Bank of America (BAC +1.6%).
Regional lenders: U.S. Bancorp (USB +1%), Huntington (HBAN +1.5%), PNC (PNC +1.3%), BB&T (BBT +1.5%), Fifth Third (FITB +1.8%), First Niagara (FNFG +2.1%).
Leading among the life insurers are Lincoln National (LNC +1.9%), Protective Life (PL +1.6%), Manulife (MFC +1.2%), and Sun Life (SLF +1.1%).
The Fed is due to release the results of its annual stress test on 30 banks today, with most expected to pass.
If the banks, which include JPMorgan (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS), are found wanting, they will have a few days to alter any plans to return money to shareholders - the Fed is due to say next week whether it will approve firms' dividend and/or stock-buyback programs.
"We maintain our contention that as the tailwind of credit improvement subsides, banks must renew their focus on core profitability to compensate for the persistent low interest rate environment, increased regulations and modest loan growth," writes RBC Capital, trying to say the easy money's been made for banks and now those with the strongest managements will be the ones to prosper going forward.
No surprise, an RBC survey finds Wells Fargo (WFC +1%) and U.S. Bancorp (USB +0.8%) as the best-managed banks (defining this by ROA and ROTCE), with Capital One (COF +1.4%) ranking high as well. The team comes up with a list of seven "up and comers" perhaps poised to join the ranks of "best managed":
BB&T (BBT +0.5%), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN +0.9%), Fifth Third (FITB +0.7%), JPMorgan (JPM +0.9%), M&T Bank (MTB), PNC Financial (PNC +1%), and SunTrust (STI +0.7%).
The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has issued two subpoenas regarding National City's practices involving FHA-insured loans as well for certain loans not insured by the agency. Previously, PNC had disclosed subpoenas from the same office over claims for costs incurred while foreclosing on mortgages insured or guaranteed by the FHA or the GSEs.
Separately, PNC received a subpoena from the DOJ seeking information on the "return rate" for certain merchant and payment processors the bank deals with. "We believe that the subpoena is intended to determine whether, and to what extent, PNC may have facilitated fraud committed by third-parties against consumers," says the bank.
With bank capital levels really no longer in question, don't expect any big pops in the banks surrounding the stress tests and CCAR results, says Citi in its "2014 CCAR Playbook." If anything - given that the stress tests are supposedly tougher this year - the risk to banks could be on the downside.
The team expects the stress test results - which looks at bank balance sheets under different scenarios - sometime around March 7 and the CCAR results - on which the Fed approves/disapproves capital return plans - about a week later.
Look for modestly higher average gross payout ratios of 62% vs. 55% last year. Individual banks: BAC 11% dividend (payout ratio) + 32% buyback for 43%; BBT 33% dividend +19% buyback; FITB 32% dividend + 37% buyback; JPM 27% dividend + 18% buyback; WFC 28% dividend + 43% buyback; GS 14% dividend + 78% buyback for an industry-leading payout ratio of 91%; MTB 34% dividend + 0% buyback; MS 17% dividend + 36% buyback; PNC 31% dividend + 49% buyback; USB 30% dividend +46% buyback.
Expecting dividends to grow 49% on average for the banks subject to the Fed's stress tests (about the same as last year), Markit, says Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) will lead the way with 400% boosts. "They are the last of the major banks paying minimal dividends ... change is overdue."
While 400% is a big number, Citi and BofA will continue to lag their peers in terms of yield (400% growth on a penny just leads to a nickel).
Also expected to have a significant pop is Morgan Stanley (MS) - a doubling of the payout to $0.10 per share and a 1.4% yield. Others in the top 5 in increases are Zions Bancorp (ZION) with a 75% boost to $0.07 and Regions Financial (RF) up 67% to $0.05.
The others: KEY +27%, HBAN +20%, BK +20%, STI +20%, COF +17%, DFS +15%, AXP +13%, STT +12%, JPM +11%, CMA +11%, PNC +9%, USB +9%, GS +9%, FITB +8%, WFC +7%, NTRS +6%, and no soup for BBT and MTB where the dividends are expected to be flat at $0.23 and $0.70 per share, respectively.
As for ETFs, the dividend jumps are expected to have the biggest impact on the XLF which would see a 25% increase in payout: The ETF has 81 companies, but the top 5 holdings - BofA, Wells, JPM, Citi, USB - make up 41% of assets. In contrast, just two CCAR banks make up the top five holdings of the KBE and it should see a more muted increase of just 18%.
About the only green on the screen in the regional bank sector (KRE -0.9%) is PNC Financial (PNC +2.7%) after this morning's earnings beat. Sandler O'Neill is impressed enough to lift its rating to Buy with price target of $93.
Boding well for earnings in 2014? $130M remain in repurchase reserves - a number management (on the earnings call) says should come down thanks to settlements with the GSEs.
Net interest income of $2.27B falls 7% Y/Y, with NIM of 3.38% down from 3.85% a year ago.
Noninterest income of $1.8B grows 10% Y/Y and 7% from last quarter thanks to a benefit of mortgage repurchase obligations which boosted income by $158M this year after a $254M hit a year ago. Mortgage banking income of $147M falls 42% Y/Y. Asset management income of $364M up 21%.
Noninterest expense of $2.55B falls 10% Y/Y, the comparison helped by some extraordinary charges a year ago. Personnel expenses of $1.2B fall 1%.
Basel Tier 1 common capital ratio of 10.5% vs. 9.6% at the start of 2013. Tangible book value per share of $54.68 vs. $49.18 at the start of the year.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc is a financial services company. It operates in six segments: Retail Banking; Corporate & Institutional Banking; Asset Management Group; Residential Mortgage Banking; BlackRock; and Non-Strategic Assets Portfolio.