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Undercapitalized Thrifts Join Growing List

This column originally posted on on Thursday, Feb. 19. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney , please click here.

Nine of the nation's 804 savings & loan associations were undercapitalized per regulatory guidelines as of Dec. 31, according to preliminary data reviewed by Ratings.

Combined with an updated list of 40 banks considered undercapitalized by regulatory standards, also based on preliminary data, several of this group of financial institutions have already joined the growing legions of bank failures. Thirty-eight banks and thrifts have failed since the beginning of 2008.

Suburban Federal Savings of Crofton, Md., which was shut down by the Office of Thrift Supervision on Jan. 30, was one of the nine undercapitalized savings & loans.

The table below lists the eight remaining thrifts that were undercapitalized as of Dec. 31, according to the preliminary data supplied by Highline Financial:

Undercapitalized S&Ls - Dec. 30, 2008 - Preliminary Data ($millions)
Highline Financial, Inc

Please keep the following in mind for this table and for our updated list of undercapitalized banks below:

  • The lists are based on preliminary data: S&Ls have filed their thrift financial reports with the OTS and banks have filed their call reports with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which our data provider, Highline Financial, obtains from the agencies. The data was not yet finalized when we downloaded it on Feb. 17. This data is often updated before it is finalized.
  • The data is for the S&Ls and banks themselves, not holding companies.
  • An S&L or bank on the list may have raised capital since Dec. 31: Most institutions with capital concerns are trying very hard to raise capital any way they can. Some on the list may have raised significant capital privately since filing their Dec. 31 call reports. If your S&L or bank is on either of these lists, you should determine if you have any deposits that exceed the FDIC's insurance limits and consider discussing the situation with the institution.

Leading the list was IndyMac Federal Bank FSB, the successor institution which was run by the FDIC since IndyMac failed in July. The FDIC reached an agreement in January to sell the institution to a partnership including J. Christopher Flowers, George Soros and Dell (DELL) CEO Michael Dell. The partnership was to put up $1.3 billion in capital toward the purchase, with the FDIC standing behind some of the remaining IndyMac loans with a loss-sharing agreement.

Another S&L on the list with negative capital ratios was American Sterling Bank of Sugar Creek, Mo. The institution reported net losses of $18 million for 2008 from writedowns of available-for-sale loans in the third quarter and provisions for mortgage loan losses.

CEO John Kopecky, who joined American Sterling in August, explained that while the thrift's majority shareholder infused $20.5 million in new capital early in the third quarter, the institution was forced to record $12.9 million in writedowns of loans it had expected to sell to Countrywide Bank, before Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) in July.
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