Reggie's Blog & Proprietary Research

Reggie's Blog & Proprietary Research (1277)


sen._corker.jpgSenator Corker challenged Mr. Volcker's stance in today's congressional hearings on the Volker Rule by saying that no financial holding company that had a commercial bank failed while performing proprietary trading. It appears as if Mr. Cofker may have received his information from the banking lobby, and did not do his own homework.
Let's reference the largest commercial bank/thrift failure of the all. First off, a little historical reference courtesy of WSJ.com:

 WaMu Is Seized, Sold Off to J.P. Morgan, In Largest Failure in the History of the US!!!

 In what is by far the largest bank failure in U.S. history, federal regulators seized Washington Mutual Inc. and struck a deal to sell the bulk of its operations to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co...

The collapse of the Seattle thrift, which was triggered by a wave of deposit withdrawals, marks a new low point in the country's financial crisis...

Monday, 01 February 2010 18:00

Readers Comments on Goldman's Valuation

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A knowledgeable reader, who is currently a sell side analyst, questioned me about using book value to value Goldman and investment banks in general. He proposed using a formula that entails revenues as well due to the fact that the main concern during the crisis was breakup value while revenue visibility is clearer now that the crisis is over.

Without going into the merits of his valuation suggestion (I am allowing him to make  a more compete argument with me), this suggestion does bring up several pertinent points. For one, while the crisis may be over, the root causes of the crisis have went nowhere, and the counterparty risk concentration is actually much worse than before. In addition, not only is it political suicide to attempt to bailout another bank, I think it is poor economic policy as well. Combining these two assertions, it is not clear that we will not see anymore bank failures. The probability of such has dropped considerably though.

Sunday, 31 January 2010 18:00

The Volcker Rule Has Merit

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Volcker is correct in that banks conflicts of interests need to be stemmed. One would not have to worry about over regulation if one does not attempt to regulate every single act or attempt to guess what might go wrong. What needs to be done is to use regulation to disincentivize banks from engaging in activities that engender systemic risks and/or harm clients. By putting everybody on the same side of the table, you don't have to worry about outsmarting the private sector. 

 From CNBC:
Saturday, 30 January 2010 18:00

Reggie Middleton vs Goldman Sachs, Round 2

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Before I get started, I want all to realize that this is not Goldman bashing piece. I think it is a [relatively] well run company, but its PR machine appears to be from Kindergarten land, and the aura of invincibility that it enjoys(ed?) is highly undeserved, as a consequence its historical "aura-based" premium is absolutely unjustified. Case in point...

On December 8th of last year, I penned "Reggie Middleton vs Goldman Sachs, Round 1" wherein I challenged all to take a critical look at exactly how much money was lost by Goldman Sachs' clients. Well, here comes round 2, which is directed at Goldman (over)valuation.

 Three months ago I explicitly warned my readers and subscribers about how outrageously priced Goldman Sachs was: Get Your Federally Insured Hedge Fund Here, Twice the Price Sale Going on Now! Monday, 19 October 2009.. Goldman was closed at $186.10 that day.

Friday, 29 January 2010 18:00

Quick Bank Thoughts

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The lead story this morning of ZH is "The Only Thing Better Than A Zero Hedge? Wells Fargo's "Never Lose" Economic Hedge", explaining more accounting shenanigans (if you read the links below, you will see that I have caught Wells in a few rather aggressive interpretations) related to MSR's. One thing that was noted was the inputs for valuing MSRs using interest rates as was extolled by management. Well...

The biggest input for MSRs are foreclosures, not interest rates. The interest rate argument is academic (assuming a refinance, that may or may not happen when few can qualify) while the foreclosures are happening at a much more rapid and prevalent clip and are much more likely to happen. The foreclosures are also a guaranteed end to MSR income. You can't service a loan on an REO, now can you? So while interest rates are remaining steady and can be put into an MSR valuation formula for a positive GAAP dollar generating result, foreclosures are on the rise and will continue to be, which will (and rightfully so) drive down the values of MSRs. This is probably why (the more academic) interest rates are used for inputs in lieu of a straight pipe to the foreclosure rates. 

For those who haven't read my take on Well's Q4, you can read it here: http://boombustblog.com/Reggie-Middleton/1293-The-Wells-Fargo-4th-Quarter-Review-is-Available-and-Its-a-Doozy.html.

This is also a reason why assets need to be market to market, and not to model. Outside of the possibility of the models actually being faulty or just plain old wrong, they are subject to bias and fraud. If one were to simply force he banks to reveal cash flows and yields on the MSRs, as in raw revenues less all expenses divided by acquisition costs, I am sure you will find an inverse relationship with localized foreclosure rates, much tighter than that of interest rates. You will also find that, on a discounted basis, these MSRs are highly overvalued on bank's books. Unfortunately, banks don't do this so the easiest way to get to the values is to let the market set it. 

Anybody who is a member of my blog should download the forensic reports from 2009 to remind themselves of the amount of issues that reside within Wells. It is very, very overrated.    

 

 

 

A quick discussion note for paying subscribers.

In Bloomberg: China Central Bank Says Price Threat Is Complicating Management of Economy

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank said rising inflation will complicate management of the world’s third- largest economy in 2010 after record lending sparked a jump in property prices and added to overcapacity in some industries.

Fourth quarter operating results opinions are available for Morgan Stanley and Suntrust for paying subscribers(File Icon STI 4Q09_Review

and File Icon MS 4Q09 result).

Of particular note is the difference between some readers perception of the Suntrust results and mine. If you take a close look at the results, you will see credit performance and asset quality is still deteriorating. The perception of a reprieve or moderation is potentially misleading due to the fact that Suntrust (like most other large banks) is actively shrinking their loan portfolio and transferring bad assets from one category to another.

To the credit of the CEO, he actually appears to tell it like it is and does not appear to be on a marketing binge to sugarcoat reality. This is an impressive, and increasingly rare trait among the C-suite crowd!

Some highlights from the Sun Trust Review: 

Sunday, 24 January 2010 18:00

Right on Point Regarding Caterpillar

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My suspicions regarding CAT were right on point last year. Unfortunately, the suspiciously engineered "feeling" bear market rally made it very difficult to profit from being right. I still have an OTM position on them. Let's see what comes of it.

From CNBC:

Caterpillar Fourth Quarter Revenue Falls Short

Caterpillar reported fourth quarter earnings that beat Street estimates on Tuesday, but fell short on revenue, sending shares lower in pre-market trading.

Sales reached $7.90 billion, below expectations of $8.11 billion and down from $12.92 billion a year ago.

Caterpillar expects 2010 sales and revenues to be up 10 to 25 percent from 2009, and profit is expected to be about $2.50 per share at the midpoint of the sales and revenues range.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010 18:00

The Spanish Inquisition is About to Begin...

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Now, it is time to see if fundamentals return to the market. 

From Bloomberg: BBVA Fourth-Quarter Profit Plunges 94% to $44 Million on Asset Writedowns

 Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said fourth-quarter profit slumped to 31 million euros from 519 million euros a year earlier as the lender wrote down the value of some assets.

BBVA fell the most in eight months in Madrid trading after saying net income fell to 31 million euros ($43.6 million) from 519 million euros a year earlier, the Bilbao, Spain-based bank said in a filing today. That missed the 1.05 billion-euro median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts as the bank took a 704 million-euro writedown for its U.S. franchise.

BBVA said it took the writedowns after analyzing its “most problematic portfolios” as it prepares for a tough year with recessions in its biggest markets of Spain and Mexico.

“Whenever there are writedowns like this, there must be a clear negative message behind that,” said Peter Braendle, who oversees about $57 billion at Swisscanto Asset Management in Zurich and holds BBVA shares. “My concern is that the worst may not be over, especially in Spain.”

Extra Provisions

The bank took 1.05 billion in charges as it adjusted the value of its U.S. business. Other writedowns included 200 million euros of provisioning charges for assets acquired in Spain as it reported additional losses on its Iberian consumer loan book, BBVA said.

Today’s writedown represents about 15 percent of the goodwill attached to the U.S. business, according to estimates by Banco BPI SA. U.S. provisions were 715 million euros higher than in the third quarter as the bank adjusted the value of commercial real estate collateral. The bank also took a charge of 73 million euros on its Mexican cards business and a 90 million-euro charge to account for Venezuelan inflation.

Bad loans as a proportion of total lending climbed to 4.3 percent from 2.3 percent a year ago. “Doubtful risks” on BBVA’s books leapt to 15.6 billion euros from 12.5 billion euros in September and 8.6 billion euros a year ago.

Loan Losses

“I don’t think the U.S. goodwill writedown is as important as all the new non-performing loans,” said Simon Maughan, an analyst at MF Global Securities Ltd. in London. “It’s catch-up time for loan losses. For those people who may have had their doubts about the Spanish methodology for timely reporting of NPLs, here is some strong evidence to support their view.” Let it be known that I issued this warning one year ago! [Reggie]

Profit from Spain and Portugal fell 24 percent to 496 million euros from a year ago, the bank said. Bad loans as a proportion of total lending almost doubled to 5.1 percent from 2.6 percent as lending shrank 1.2 percent.

Earnings from Mexico dropped 29 percent to 268 million euros, the bank said. BBVA booked a loss of 122 million euros from its U.S. business compared with a 21 million-euro gain a year ago.

Net interest income climbed to 3.59 billion euros from 3.09 billion euros a year ago.

The bank had a core capital ratio of 8 percent compared with 6.2 percent a year ago. BBVA said it would keep its commitment to distribute 30 percent of 2009 profit in dividend payments.

 This was foreseen nearly one year ago, to date. This bank got caught up in the bear rally and apparently (like many banks) was not deserving of the outrageous boost in the share price. Reference the past analysis.

I have decided to release a significant amount of opinion on Wells to the public, and have created an extended version of the report for subscribers with geo-specific charge-off estimates stemming from the FDIC/NY Fed model that we have created in house. A rather comprehensive piece of work. It appears that much of the sell side community is much, much more optimistic on the prospect of Wells than I am. It must be the Warren Buffet investment...