Money & Banking

Analysts warn US banks of choppy times if Democrats win 2020 polls

Bloomberg October 8 | Updated on October 08, 2019 Published on October 08, 2019

Banks may be set for a harder time in the next few years as they face slowing earnings-per-share growth and mounting concern about tax hikes and tighter regulation if Democrats win in 2020, analysts say.

Citi’s Keith Horowitz sees reduced earnings forecasts as bank stock valuations are flashing red. He updated his estimates and price targets to incorporate four interest rate cuts through 2020, which left Citi below Street estimates for 2020 and 2021.

He expects bank management teams may add lower rates to their 2020 outlooks for net interest income, or NII, which will come in substantially lower than consensus.

At Jefferies, analyst Ken Usdin also flagged slower earnings and sentiment hurdles. The elections may return the spotlight back to regulation and taxes, he wrote. After years of positive developments, there may be concerns about rollback if the Democrats gain control of the presidency and/or Senate. In a worse-case scenario, Usdin said, reversing tax overhaul benefits might strip 12 per cent from earnings per share.

Jefferies base case is for a stable economy, but trade talk could tip it either way, Usdin added.

Credit metrics still seem benign, but Jefferies expects higher charge-offs off a low base. Attractive dividend yields and a shift towards value stocks might help banks, he said, but EPS revisions are biased down with more rate cuts likely.

Jefferies’ base case includes two more rate cuts by the end of 2020, with a 1.50 per cent terminal rate, and a 10-year Treasury yield around 1.75 per cent.

Capital expenditures

Raymond James’ David Long also views earnings estimates as set to fall on lower rates. Slower loan growth will hurt banks, too, as capital expenditures are poised to decline, loan pay-downs are rising, and there’s increasing prudence among management teams at this point in the cycle.

At the same time, Long said, banks may get some relief as lower rates spur a refinancing wave, which may extend the benign credit environment and low levels of provisioning.

All three analysts changed some bank ratings: Horowitz cut Citizens Financial Group, Regions Financial Corp, and US Bancorp to sell and upgraded M&T Bank Corp to neutral. Citi now has no buy recommendations on traditional banks.

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Published on October 08, 2019
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