Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reuters: After Citigroup (C) is Bank of America (BAC) Next?

We posed the exact same theory after the Citigroup (C) bailout was announced. Good to see realism and cynicism reach into our news agencies ;) That Countrywide Financial exposure cannot be a good thing. I am also wondering if the Merrill Lynch (MER) deal is still going to go through - certainly the terms are prone to change.

Thankfully the first thing they did when we gave them our tax dollars is they spent $6 Billion to buy a stake in a Chinese bank. Of course they say it's not the "same money" ;)
  • A government rescue plan has eased investors' concerns about Citigroup Inc, but mines lurking in the balance sheets of rivals including Bank of America Corp could still tempt short-sellers.
  • The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank further heightened its exposure to home loans by acquiring Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. independent mortgage lender and agreeing to buy Merrill Lynch & Co, which owns the world's largest retail brokerage.
  • Before Monday's stock market rally, Bank of America shares had lost 52 percent in November alone, making them the second biggest decliner for the month in the KBW Banks index after Citigroup.
  • Analysts at independent research company CreditSights forecast that in a scenario where the commercial and residential real estate markets really tank beyond banks' expectations, Bank of America would have a Tier-1 capital ratio of 7.15 percent. The minimum that regulators seek to consider a bank "well capitalized" is 6 percent, but any ratio near or below 7 percent tends to spook investors.
  • Under the same assumptions, and before the government's latest investment, Citigroup would have a Tier-1 capital ratio of 8.64 percent
  • The U.S. banking system is broadly undercapitalized, perhaps to the tune of more than $1 trillion, and the only investor that can bail it out is the U.S. government, analysts said.
  • Bank of America, through its acquisition of Countrywide, has more than $250 billion in residential mortgages and while it has stopped offering some of the most toxic types of mortgages, chargeoffs in the portfolio are increasing.
  • "The difference between Citi and the other three is that Citi clearly had more suspect management," said Mal Polley, chief investment officer at Stewart Capital Advisors in Pittsburgh. "They had not done enough to take the fat out of the system and right the ship," he added. But management at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and even JPMorgan, widely regarded as the bank that has best survived the credit crisis to date, will need to allay investors' concerns about their capital position as financial conditions worsen.
  • "I definitely think other companies will need this help," said Paul Miller, analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co in New York.
I expect first half 2009 to be very similar to what we've just gone through. It will be interesting to see if we move up the food chain to Wells Fargo and JPMorgan. Still curious about the off balance sheet exposure at BAC.

But for now we are hopeful Kool Aid drinkers since the government will fix all our problems. Until it is clear they cannot.

No position

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