HSBC Bucks the Trend

Includes: HSBC, MBI, S
by: Grace Cheng

Bucking the trend of loss reporting financial institutions, HSBC (HSB) said today that its profit had been better than last Q1 despite having to write down over $5 billion. It said that growth in Asia had helped offset these losses, and that capital ratios remained strong and at 2007 levels. Not everything was rosy though; it warned that the US economy was likely to go into a recession and that it expects the US housing market not to recover till at least 2009. Despite this, it expects continued growth and that it will reach its 10% revenue growth forecast this year.

MBIA (NYSE:MBI), the troubled bond insurer, didn’t fare as well and today reported a loss of $2.41 billion, or $13.03 per share, versus a profit of $199 million, or $1.46 per share last Q1. The loss was less than what some feared and the stock was up slightly for the day, although still down over 80% from late last year and is being traded at a price not seen since 1991. The drop in share price is understandable when you think that the per share loss announced for this quarter is more than the share price the company is even trading at and less than the $8.70 book value of the company. The fact that with all these negatives the stock went up today is a sign that bulls want to be optimistic regardless of the bad news.

A long-time player in the game of quarterly losses, Sprint (NYSE:S) reported a Q1 loss of $505 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a loss of $211 million, or 7 cents a share last Q1. Revenue fell to $9.3 billion from $10.1 billion lower than the $9.4 billion in revenue analysts expected. Much of these losses from the US number 3 wireless carrier are due to customer defections, and now even Sprint is talking about a possible liquidity crisis and having to defer payments to creditors although it says it should have enough cash on hand to last it through 2009. Sprint also warned that it may lose more customers. All in all, it’s not looking good for this carrier and it will need to take some major steps to remain relevant.

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