First Republic Bank & The Asymmetry of Banking

At September 30, 2018, First Republic Bank (FRC) reported total deposits of $75 billion, which expanded to about $175 billion at December 31, 2022. A deposit run reversed four years of deposit growth over several days in March, with deposits at March 31, 2023 regressing to the September 2018 level excluding $30 billion of funds deposited by large banks in March 2023. The shareholder value destruction also was crystallized. FRC’s market capitalization declined from $16 billion at September 30, 2018 to $1 billion at April 26, 2023. This month, we look at this stunning reversal in fortune.

What Are Bank Stocks Telling Investors?

In this article we look at the performance of publicly traded banks in what was the worst performance since the GFC other than the first quarter of 2020 with the NASDAQ Bank Index declining 21% for the quarter and 28% YTD through April 26. Analyst estimate revisions have been declining for nine months due to now declining NIMs from rising COFs. The market implies that further reductions are likely to occur. While we do not want to be accused of piling on, we also offer a flyover of beleaguered First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC).

“I’m Not Broke. I’m Just Not Liquid.”

The Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy tightening claimed its first banking industry casualties in March with the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. In this month’s issue of Bank Watch, we explore the turmoil that enveloped some regional banks in March and its implications.

Themes from Bank Director’s 2023 Acquire or Be Acquired Conference

In this month’s article we discuss a few themes from the Bank Director’s 2023 Acquire or Be Acquired Conference along with some highlights of the sessions we attended. Over the years the conference has broadened its M&A offerings to focus on a combination of M&A, growth, and FinTech strategies.

2022 Bank Stock Performance Recap

In 2022, market performance for publicly-traded banks was more dispersed than in 2020 or 2021, when most every bank reported share price declines (2020) or increases (2021). In 2022, approximately 35% of public banks with assets under $10 billion reported share price gains. We examine some reasons for this diverging bank stock performance during 2022 in this article.

Bank M&A 2022 — Turbulence

The outlook for deal making in 2023 is challenged by significant interest rate marks, uncertain credit marks given a potential recession and soft real estate values, and the bear market for bank stocks that has depressed public market multiples. However, core deposits and excess liquidity of potential sellers is highly prized today given tight balance sheet liquidity and an inability to sell bonds to generate liquidity given sizable unrealized losses. A rebound in bank stocks and even a modest rally in the bond market that lessens interest rate marks could be the catalysts for an acceleration of activity in 2022 provided any recession is shallow.

Bond Portfolio Update

The U.S. bond market is undergoing its worst bear market in decades. In this article we provide commentary on bank bond portfolios after the third quarter 2022 earnings calls.

Community Bank Loan Portfolios Have Unrealized Losses Too

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the impact of rising rates on bank bond portfolios and bank stocks as rising rates have resulted in large unrealized losses in bank bond portfolios. If subjected to mark-to-market accounting like the AFS securities portfolio, most bank loan portfolios would have sizable losses too given higher interest rates and wider credit spreads. In this article, we examine data from a survey of periodic loan portfolio valuations by Mercer Capital to observe recent trends in loan portfolio fair values.

How Are Tech-Forward Banks Performing?

Fintech partner banks have underperformed the broader banking sector in 2022 in a reversal of the trend in 2021. For some banks, fintech partnerships have accelerated growth and created new income streams. However, bank partners also face unique risks. We examine considerations for community banks pursuing a fintech partnership strategy in this month’s BankWatch.

2022 Core Deposit Intangibles Update

Mercer Capital previously published articles on core deposit trends in August 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic and again in August 2021. In those articles, we described a decreasing trend in core deposit intangible asset values. In response to the pandemic, the Fed cut rates effectively to zero, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury reached a record low. While many factors are pertinent to analyzing a deposit base, a significant driver of value is market interest rates. As shown below, we find ourselves in a very different interest rate environment today.

NIB Deposits Anesthetize Bond Pain

Bond portfolios saw a significant increase in unrealized losses during 2Q22; however, investors seem to be looking past the issue, focusing instead on expanding NIMs for banks with significant non-interest-bearing deposit funding.

Strategic Benefits of Stress Testing in an Uncertain Economic Environment

With both inflationary pressures and interest rate risk causing volatility in the current and forecasted economic environment, both banks and credit unions may find themselves contending with uncertainty surrounding their capital positions. Stress testing can be an important tool to utilize in order to better understand how your bank or credit union is positioned to withstand a severely adverse economic scenario. In this article, we give an overview of the stress testing process, as well as what strategic benefits it may provide to your financial institution.

Bond Pain and Perspective on Bank Valuations

For fixed income investors who were around, 1994 is known as the Great Bond Massacre when rates rose globally, including by about 300bps in the US. The bear market caused mayhem in part because of increased leverage used to finance the “carry trade.” Among the casualties were Orange County, California and Mexico. Banks managed through that bear market with some scrapes but no major casualties. So far the same can be said about banks and the fixed income bear market of 2022 even though the magnitude of price reductions is greater than 1994.

First Quarter 2022 Review: Volatility Resurfaces

In this month’s article we summarize key metrics we track regarding equities, fixed income, and commodity markets leading up to the Ukrainian invasion on February 23, 2022 and thereafter.

Bank M&A 2022 | Gaining Altitude

At this time last year, bank M&A could be described as “on the runway” as economic activity accelerated following the short, but deep recession in the spring. Next year, activity should gain altitude. Should and will are two different verbs, however.

Value Drivers in Flux

No one knows for sure; the future is always uncertain. For banks, two key variables have an outsized influence on earnings other than credit costs: loan demand and rates. In other industries the variables are called volume and price.

Fairness Opinions – Evaluating a Buyer’s Shares from the Seller’s Perspective

Fairness opinions are more than a 3 or 4 page letter that opines as to the fairness from a financial point of view of a contemplated transaction. A fairness opinion should be backed by a robust analysis of all the relevant factors considered in rendering the opinion, including an evaluation of the shares to be issued to the selling company’s shareholders. In this article, we present key questions that should be asked about the buyer’s shares.

Not All MOEs Are Created Equal

In the December 2020 BankWatch, we provided our M&A outlook for 2021 and touched on themes that we believed would drive deal activity for the year.  Our view was that the need to reduce costs in the face of revenue … Continued

Mortgage Banking Lagniappe

2020 was a tough year for most of us. Schools and churches closed, sports were cancelled, and many lost their jobs. There were a select few, however, that thrived during 2020. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk saw a meteoric rise in their personal net worth over the past 12 months. Mortgage bankers are another group showered with unexpected riches last year (and apparently this year).

Mortgage Banking Lagniappe (Part II)

The January Bank Watch provided an overview of the mortgage industry and its importance in boosting bank earnings in the current low-rate environment. As we discussed, mortgage volume is inversely correlated to interest rates and more volatile than net interest income. In this article, we discuss key considerations in valuing a mortgage company/subsidiary, including how the public markets price them.