US regional bank stocks tumble for second straight day From Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a closed branch of the New York Community Bank in New York City, U.S., January 31, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The sell-off in U.S. regional bank shares continued on Thursday, adding to losses from the previous day, when Community Bancorp of New York (NYSE:) shocked the market by reporting distress in its commercial real estate portfolio, renewing fears about the health of the sector.

The KBW regional banking index slumped 4.8% after posting its biggest daily decline since the collapse of Signature bank (OTC:) in March last year. It was on track to post its biggest two-day percentage drop since June 2020.

NYCB shares lost another 13.4% of their value and last traded at $5.60. According to LSEG, the stock posted a record single-day drop of 37.6% on Wednesday.

The frenzied selling of bank stocks reignited fears about regional lenders, even as many analysts and investors said NYCB’s problems were mostly unique.

“Financial institutions must urgently reassess their portfolios and explore alternative financing options, otherwise they risk being hit by a new crisis,” said Martin Rauchenwald, partner at management consultancy Arthur D. Little.

NYCB’s purchase of Signature Bank, along with its acquisition of Flagstar Bank in 2022, pushed its assets above the $100 billion regulatory threshold, subject to more stringent capital and liquidity requirements.

“We believe NYCB has several unique characteristics, but the outcome and reaction are reminiscent of the risks that remain in the regional banking space,” Jefferies analysts wrote.

According to LSEG data, NYCB expects net interest income (NII) in 2024 to be between $2.8 billion and $2.9 billion, the midpoint of which is lower than the $2.88 billion expected by analysts.

The bank updated its earnings presentation later Wednesday to include the NII forecast, after failing to provide a clear number earlier in the day despite repeated requests from JPMorgan analyst Steven Alexopoulos in his post-earnings call.

Alexopoulos maintained his “overweight” rating on NYCB shares and said they remain the brokerage’s “top pick for 2024.”

“We believe the issues impacting NYCB are company-specific, with little understanding from broader regional banks. In our view, NYCB’s sell-off is overdone and the stock is poised to rebound materially,” he said.

Moody’s (NYSE:), however, revised NYCB’s ratings for a downgrade that could push the bank into “junk territory.”

Western Alliance (NYSE:) Bancorp shares fell nearly 11%, while shares of Valle Nazionale Bancorp (NASDAQ:) fell 8.8%. Comerica (NYSE:) shares fell 5.8%.

The banking index also fell by almost 2.7%.


Investors and analysts have warned that banks paying higher interest rates on deposits would see an erosion of their NII – the difference between what lenders earn on loans and pay on deposits.

During first-quarter earnings, many regional banks also said NII was declining.

Another potential headache for regional banks is their exposure to the troubled commercial real estate (CRE) sector, which has been under pressure due to high financing costs and remote working.

NYCB’s loss for the fourth quarter was driven by a $552 million provision for credit losses, part of which was allocated to its CRE portfolio in which the bank specifically mentioned two loans, an office loan and a loan for a cooperative.

“If there is anything more ‘systemic’ in yesterday’s results that needs to be noted, it is that the bank said it believes there may be credit deterioration in the office and multifamily property (CRE) markets,” he said David Wagner, portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors.

“But this sentiment was not echoed by any of NYCB’s peers like Regions Financial (NYSE:) or KeyCorp (NYSE:), so this may be a function of bank-specific bad loans.”

Wednesday’s sell-off in stocks suggested the recovery in the regional banking index may not be a linear recovery, said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.

“Individual regional banks will need to start showing more positive results in what investors assume will be a non-recessionary, lower interest rate environment,” Meckler added.

Meanwhile, Japanese bank Aozora reported its first annual net loss in 15 years on Thursday, having set aside massive provisions for loan losses on commercial property in the United States.

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