Bank of America reported a 34% rise in first-quarter profit last night, topping Wall Street estimates, as the bank benefited from higher interest rates and growth in loans and deposits.
However, BAC under-performed in fixed income, currency and commodities (FICC) trading because of a decline in bond issuance from corporations.
Trading revenue was up only 1%. Equities trading revenue, excluding items, rose 38%, while revenue from trading fixed income fell 13%.
BAC’s trading results mirrored those of rivals JP Morgan and Citigroup; revenue from stock trading rose at both the banks, but weakness in bond trading crimped total trading revenue growth, which is why their share prices remain soft.
To a large degree, the local banks face the same headwinds but with the added risk of the Royal Bank commission.
Hearings from the commission are back on this week with QBE and SUN included in the questioning over insurance related business practices.
Our ALGO engine triggered a sell signal late last year in both QBE and SUN at $10.40 and $14.05, respectfully.
We remain cautious of the local banking names and see the risk continue to be skewed to the downside, especially in the regional names like BOQ and BEN.
Before the US market opens later today, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will report their Q2 results.
After last year’s post-election rally, these stocks and others in the financial sector have been trading in wide ranges.
However, over the last few weeks, bank stocks have rallied after the results of the FED’s “stress tests”, a push higher in short-term rates and hopes of further government de-regulation.
For Q2, JP Morgan is expected to report earnings of $1.57 per share, up 2 cents from last year on revenue of $24.8 billion. Wells Fargo is expected to report earnings of $1.02 per share, which is up 1 cent from last year on revenue of $22.3 billion. Citigroup is expected to report earnings of $1.21 per share, which is 3 cents below last year on lower revenue of $17.3 billion.
Our base case for the US banks is that trading revenues will be trending lower for the remainder of the year and the current levels look fully-valued with risk to the downside.
A week after the FED announced that 33 of 34 major US banks had passed their financial stress-tests, the banks have released their revised share buyback and dividend plans.
Analysts had estimated that positive stress-test results would open the way for banks to boost dividends and share buybacks by up to 25%, which could translate to about $30 billion back to shareholders through higher dividends and share prices.
Some of the specific plans include Citi-Group buying back up to $15 billion in shares and increasing their dividend to 32 cents per share, and JP Morgan buying back up to $19 billion in shares and lifting their dividend from 50 cents to 56 cents.
While these announcements were bullish for the share prices today, a longer-term valuation question is: How are the major US banks going to maintain these share and dividend levels?
Against a back drop of lower loan creation, thinner margins and increased bad loan provisions, we’ll track the recent price action and see if the bounce from the recent lows will be sustainable.
Goldman Sachs surprised to the upside with Q4 EPS announced at $5.08, which was well above the market estimate of $4.73 and nearly 4 times the EPS of $1.27 reported a year ago. This was based on quarterly earnings of $8.17 billion versus forecasts of $7.76 billion.
Like other banks in the sector, Goldman benefited from a sharp uptick in trading activity. Net revenues from the institutional client services division were up 25% from a year ago, led by a 78% increase from the fixed-income, foreign exchange and commodities unit. Goldman shares closed down $1.45 at $234.
Citigroup had a mixed report with Q4 earnings beating expectations, but missing on their revenue figures. The banking giant announced EPS of $1.14 on revenue of $17.01 billion. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.12 on revenue of $17.26 billion.
Trading revenue was higher at $3.20 billion, but considerably below the expectations of $3.45 billion. Fixed-income revenue also missed to the downside with Q4 reported at $2.21 billion verses an expected $2.83 billion number. Shares of Citigroup closed down 1.7% at $57.40, well below the one-year high of $61.50 posted January 4th.
Shares of NETFLIX posted an all-time high of $135.15 as earnings were marginally better than expectations, but the number of new subscribers increased sharply. The on-line entertainment company announced Q4 earnings of 15 cents per share on revenue of $2.48 billion.
These numbers were slightly better than the street’s forecast of 13 cents per share on revenue of of $2.47 billion.
More importantly, NETFLIX exceeded its own subscriber growth estimates by gaining 7.05 million new subscribers versus estimates of 5.2 million. This represents the biggest quarterly gain in the company’s history and triggered the initial rally in their shares. By the close, the share price had settle back to $133.25