Magazine article American Banker

Tepid Quarterly Earnings, Asia Woes Cause Bank Slide

Magazine article American Banker

Tepid Quarterly Earnings, Asia Woes Cause Bank Slide

Article excerpt

Bank stocks fell sharply Thursday as investors became anxious about tepid fourth-quarter earnings and mounting problems in Southeast Asia.

Although bank fourth-quarter earnings have met - and in some cases exceeded - targets, investors are dubious that this year's earnings can sustain bank stocks' lofty levels, market observers said.

The Standard & Poor's bank index fell 2.39%, while the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1%. The Nasdaq bank index fell 0.96%, and the S&P 500 dipped 0.81%.

Some of the biggest losers of the day included J.P Morgan & Co., which tumbled $3.75, to $101.50; Wells Fargo & Co., down $14.0625, to $315.6875; Wachovia Corp., down $2.3125, to $75.625; and Citicorp, down $1.9375, to $117.0625.

"People are tired of the fluff that has come out in every one of these earnings reports," said one bank stock trader who declined to be identified. "Banks do not look like they can sustain their earnings. At these levels they are better for sale."

Veteran analyst Richard X. Bove of Raymond James & Associates, St. Petersburg, Fla., has been warning his clients for four months that lackluster earnings reports by banks are inevitable.

"Net interest margins have been down across the board, loan losses are up, and loan growth is showing signs of strain," said Mr. Bove. "Repurchase programs have slowed and efficiency rates are not getting better. And if you look at the quarterly reports, it is there played out in spades. …

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