Eq: Financials (35)
Goldman Sachs has a new platform for investors to assist in portfolio management. In a partnership with Amazon’s cloud division, GS is bringing data and software tools for software management to a cloud computing environment. The product will give investors access to aggregated data and GS expertise in investing. Additionally they hope to lower the barrier to entry for quantitative trading techniques and allow smaller firms to have access. The partnership came as a shock at how close both companies are to one another. This also adds another company to Amazon's growing list of cloud based partnerships which have had an incredibly high success rate. GS will monetize the platform and target it to hedge funds and other financial companies.
FINSUM: This products biggest benefit will be the clean data and accessibility, but a strong partnership like this could send regulation warning signs to Washington.
For the most part, regulatory risk is understood well before it becomes a reality. There is a lot of uncertainty around the final rule, but generally you can prepare long in advance. That said, Reg BI may be about to cause a big problem in publicly traded markets. In particular, there is increasing speculation that Reg BI may soon be applied to everyone’s favorite darling (or the opposite), Robinhood (HOOD). The company has been under intense scrutiny for most of this year for its monetization strategies as well as its gamification of trading.
FINSUM: And this would not just be limited to Robinhood but all online trading platforms. This could lead to some significant volatility.
The whole market—including advisors—has pretty much been panicking lately about to invest in what could be a period of high inflation. The duress is understandable considering we haven’t had significant inflation in decades. However, those trying to diversify into assets which are likely to thrive during inflation should look no further than the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE). The normally sleepy sector is surging this year, up 37% versus the S&P 500’s 11%. The reason why is simple: higher rates mean better earnings for banks, which earn the majority of the revenue from interest income.
FINSUM: If you think inflation is going to stay elevated, this is a great hedge. However, if it falls, it is easy to imagine regional banks tumbling in value.
Eyes and ears have been on the Fed as the bond market still is unsure of the future of Inflation, but it was…see the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site
Fintech Company Upstart experienced a rally reminiscent of the Reddit-fueled GameStop frenzy weeks back as its stock jumped…read the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site
The better the economy gets, the more banks seem like a good buy. Banks have been rather severely beaten up over the last several months, largely missing on the price recovery of so many other stocks. This is primarily because of two factors—ultra-low interest rates, and the potential for losses on their loan portfolios. However, it is increasingly appearing like loan losses may not be nearly so severe as forecast, and that billions of Dollars set aside to account for such losses may now be released onto earnings over the next couple of quarters.
FINSUM: Two considerations here. Firstly, the idea of loan losses flowing back to the bottom line and causing upside surprises at earnings time sounds great, especially within the longer-term perspective that banks are a good macro bet on the recovery. The downside risk here relates to an article yesterday in BuzzFeed that accused banks (using obtained data on potential fraudulent activity in client accounts) of not following regulations related to money laundering. That could obviously turn into a big mess, but as yet it is unclear if that is a material risk.
Banks have been absolutely hammered since COVID erupted, and they have not come back very much at all. Overall they are down 33% on the year versus a 5% gain for the S&P 500. Worries about loan losses and low interest rates headline the set of fears for the banking sector. However, banks may have an ace in the hole. Early in the year they set aside tens of billions for loan losses—which hurt earnings, but that may now be their good fortune. Loan losses have not been as bad as expected and many suspect that banks may start to let some of those loss provisions flow through to the bottom line in the next couple earnings seasons.
FINSUM: In our view, this would be a double whammy to the upside for the sector. Not only would it result in blowout earnings, but it would officially alleviate a big fear—that loan losses are going to be very bad because of COVID. Altogether seems like a good opportunity.
Bank stocks have been heavy maligned by investors since COVID erupted. Several bank indexes, like the KBW, are down significantly on the year. KBE, a popular bank ETF is down over 30% on the year versus a small gain for the S&P 500. Ultra-low interest rates and loan losses are the big factors weighing on banks, but within the latter could be the spark of a rally. Banks have been setting aside tens of billions of Dollars in loan loss reserves, and seem to have been very bearish in their allocation of said reserves. Such reserves are also understood to likely have peaked at the end of Q2. That means that if loan losses aren’t as bad as forecast, some of those billions will likely be allowed to flow into the profit category for banks, allowing great earnings reports which could prompt a rally.
FINSUM: Banks are play on the recovery and can be had very cheaply. Additionally, this loan loss reserve aspect creates a nice catalyst for why a rally would start.
Picking stocks is about the hardest thing one can do right now. The market has risen so much—and seems to be defying gravity—that it is hard to know where to allocate money. On the one hand, growth stocks look ludicrously priced, while on the other, value has been underperforming for over a decade. With that said, here are some stocks that are still providing a good discount but look likely to rise as the performance of their underlying business improves. The first place to look is at beaten-up financial stocks, such as those in the KBW bank index, which is down 30% for the year despite big gains in the market. However, sentiment is turning positive. According to RBC, “Based upon the valuations and the outlook for the economy in 2021, we believe bank stocks can be purchased with the expectation the group outperforms the general market over the next 12-18 months”. The stocks to look for are Bank of America, Truist, TCF Financial, Western Alliance, BankUnited, and Investors Bancorp.
FINSUM: Banks are always a bet on the economy, and given their heavily maligned share prices and the general trajectory of the recovery, seem a wise bet. The only lingering risk in our minds (other than a weak recovery) is how continued ultra-low rates might hurt their earnings over the long haul.
It is a great time to be an investment bank. That fact became very clear last week when Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley earnings destroyed those of more traditional lenders like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Goldman, for instance, may be a great buy. It has much less main street lending exposure than regular banks, and has booming underwriting and trading businesses that are benefitting from low rates and market volatility. Some nice summary comments from an analyst at JMP Securities, saying “Goldman had a phenomenal quarter that allowed the firm to pad its legal reserves and conservatively position itself on loan losses … The bigger story is where the firm is going … Goldman is the biggest transformation story in finance, and the pandemic hasn’t derailed that”.
FINSUM: Firstly, these earnings came with all their employees working from home. So a 50% outperformance versus expectations with home-based traders. To us that is a sign of excellent management. More generally, their business mix—with a majority of institutional and growing, but not huge, consumer-facing revenue lines—seems ideal for the current environment. The stock is also priced below book value.
Godman Sachs has generally been underperforming its competitors for years. However, under the leadership of CEO David Solomon the future is looking increasingly bright. On the one hand, the bank’s bet that trading would return as a huge driver of revenue and profit is starting to look smart (though it took about a decade), but on the other, its new focus on consumer and commercial banking products seems wise. Marcus, the brand under which its consumer-facing high yield savings accounts for consumers and businesses is marketed, has been growing its user base, with Goldman Sachs more generally has entered into many partnership deals in the consumer space. These include a new card with Apple, and a small business lending program in partnership with Amazon.
FINSUM: Goldman has been trying to shed its clubby image, and so far it seems to be making all the right moves. We are bullish on the future.
The epicenter of the financial crisis accompanying the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly become the commercial real estate space. With so many physical businesses bringing in zero revenue, the huge suspension of cash payments is going to flow through to property owners and then to the lenders that financed those building purchases. Multiple parts of that value chain are going to targeted by markets, but Wells Fargo, in particular, looks exposed. The bank has almost 13% of mortgage market share (residential), around double the exposure of JPMorgan Chase and triple that of Bank of America.
FINSUM: The government’s stimulus package offers some good assistance to help support cash flow (via Ginnie Mae), which could soften the blow. But still, it is going to be a painful period.
Markets are in a very rough place right now, with benchmark indexes approaching bear market territory on Monday. Energy and travel have been the epicenter of losses, but every sector s getting hit badly. With that in mind, what is the best sector to invest in right now? The answer may be—somewhat surprisingly—financials, and XLF in particular. Whereas the S&P 500 as a whole was in the 99th percentile of valuations historically before the big fall, financials were only in the 60-70% range. Now with the big tumble in prices, financials are in the bottom 1% of their ten-year valuation range.
FINSUM: So rates and yields are super low, which obviously hurts banks’ net interest margin and has led to financial stocks getting pummeled. However, they are so cheap that this is a very good long-term entry point.
Donald Trump wasted no time in highlighting Democrats’ big debacle in the Iowa Caucus. And interestingly, markets wasted no time in jumping on news of the issues in Iowa. In particular, bank stocks jumped across the board (from JPM to BAC and beyond) on news of the reporting issue in Iowa. Investors think a Trump re-election will be better for markets, and bank stocks are particularly sensitive as the current president is viewed as much more favorable to financial companies.
FINSUM: If Bernie ends up winning the Caucus, expect markets to take a little hit, as he (or Warren) will be the exact opposite of “good” for bank stocks.