Fairly lukewarm on the large cap regional banking sector (KRE +0.7%) amid pricey valuations and the likelihood 2014 estimates are set to be trimmed after Q4 earnings reports, Citi's Keith Horowitz does have a favorite ...
BB&T Corporation (BBT +1.4%) deserves a premium multiple, says Horowitz, thanks to its above-average returns and quality of the management team.
The rest? Wells Fargo (WFC -0.1%) is likely to beat Q4 estimates due to lower expenses (the bank has been busy cutting mortgage staff), but Horowitz is Neutral on the name. U.S. Bancorp (USB +1%) is Neutral as well thanks to its premium valuation. Also not meriting a Buy rating are Fifth Third (FITB +0.4%), M&T (MTB +0.8%), and PNC Financial (PNC +0.9%).
Alongside upgrades to Citi and Fifth Third, Evercore removes its Buy rating on PNC Financial (PNC +0.3%). "Ongoing productivity improvements in newer markets [are] unlikely to offset continued spread revenue headwinds and limited expense flexibility," writes analyst Andrew Marquardt. At 11.5x 2014 EPS, valuation isn't unattractive, he says, but mixed near-term fundamentals and the potential for disappointment (his estimates are below consensus) has him moving to the sidelines.
The agreement resolves substantially all indemnification and repurchase obligations on 900K loans originated and sold by PNC to Freddie Mac (FMCC) between 2000 and 2008. PNC will pay Freddie $89M (less credits of $8M).
This follows an agreement in principal between PNC and Fannie Mae. Both deals require final approvals from the FHFA.
American Express (AXP +0.4%), Discover (DFS +0.3%), U.S. Bancorp (USB +0.2%), and Wells Fargo (WFC -0.1%) are best positioned to be allowed large capital returns (about 70%) after the Fed's early 2014 stress tests, says Credit Suisse's Moshe Orenbuch, while Ciitgroup (C +0.2%) and PNC Financial (PNC +0.9%) are likely to show the biggest improvement from last year.
Overall, his team expects large cap bank capital returns to be 65% next year vs. about 48% in 2013. The median dividend payout ratio is expected at 22%, level with this year.
Orenbuch notes the CCAR will be tougher this time around - notably by assuming a global, not just domestic meltdown, and assuming a significant reversal in the property market - with commercial real estate exposure particularly harshly judged.
Balanced against that and likely winning, however, are far stronger capital positions of the banks, says Orenbuch.
Up sharply as interest rates fly higher (the 10-year is up 15 basis points to 2.75%) are the life insurers - all of whom have had their investment returns more than a little constrained by puny yields. IAK +2.4%
MetLife (MET +5.9%), Prudential (PRU +4.5%), Lincoln National (LNC +6.8%), Hartford (HIG +3.1%).
Also set to benefit from a steeper yield curve (if we're to believe their models) are the banks, and they're leading the S&P 500 higher. The TBTFs: Bank of America (BAC +3.3%), JPMorgan (JPM +3.1%), CItigroup (C +3.3%), Wells Fargo (WFC +2.6%). The regionals (KRE +3.4%): Huntington (HBAN +2.6%), Regions (RF +4.2%), PNC (PNC +2.8%), FIfth Third (FITB +3.4%), First Niagara (FNFG +2%), Keycorp (KEY +3.5%), Zions (ZION +4.1%), Comerica (CMA +3.1%).
Among banks and credit card names, FBR favors those picking up new teams/market share - namely Signature Bank (SBNY -1.4%) and Discover (DFS) - as well as those trading near book value, like HomeStreet (HMST -0.6%). PNC Financial remains a favorite for its strong growth prospects, as well as servicers like Nationstar (NSM +0.2%), Walter Investment (WAC -2.3%), and New Residential (NRZ -0.3%).
Those most exposed to a protracted government shutdown are smaller community banks in the D.C. area like Eagle Bancorp (EGBN -1.4%), and Cardinal FInancial (CFNL -0.2%). Capital One (COF -1.9%) - by dint of its Chevy Chase acquisition - would also feel a pinch.
On mREITs (REM -0.1%), the team expects Q3 book values to increase slightly, but warns its estimates are based on relatively static portfolios - "but for most names, portfolios are anything but that." With all the volatility, most mREITs may have hedged away the recent MBS rally. Starwood Property Trust (STWD) remains FBR's best idea thanks to its commercial real estate exposure.
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.