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SunTrust Banks (STI), one of 10 lenders told to raise more capital in May after the U.S. completed stress tests, appears stronger than many other regional holding companies, including Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) and Regions Financial (RF).
SunTrust looks like a good long-term bet. But making a quick killing on the shares will be more difficult.
Investors were taken for a wild ride in the first week of June, when SunTrust shares rose 29% on an analyst's upgrade and a short squeeze. Others piled in amid talk of "green shoots" in the economy.Confidence in the economy was replaced by doom and gloom last week, as a dismal unemployment report pushed the S&P 500 Index down 2.5%. Banks fared worse, with the S&P 500 Financials Index dropping 4.2%. SunTrust rose 1.5%. After the Treasury and bank regulators completed their stress tests on the largest 19 domestic bank holding companies, SunTrust was instructed to raise another $2.2 billion in common equity, in addition to the $4.85 billion the company had already received when it sold preferred shares to the Treasury through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Other banks that raised common equity include Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Fifth Third. SunTrust quickly responded by selling common shares totaling $2.08 billion in early June, as well as repurchasing roughly $750 million in preferred and trust preferred shares in late June. Retiring the preferred shares will provide significant savings on dividend payouts, without affecting the tangible common equity ratio, which regulators and analysts are now fixated upon.
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