NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The results of the Federal Reserve's annual bank stress tests are a mixed bag, but Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin on Wednesday highlighted three as "relative winners," based on the regulator's approval of their capital plans.
The 19 large, complex bank holding companies subject to the Fed's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) for 2012 were stress-tested under a severe economic scenario. The results had to show that the group of 19's estimated Tier 1 common equity ratios would remain over 5% under the adverse economic scenario to pass Fed muster.
In order to have their capital plans approved, the companies' estimated Tier 1 capital ratios at the end of 2013 would have to be above 5%, "with all proposed capital actions through Q4 2013."
Following JPMorgan Chase's announcement that it would raise its dividend by a nickel to 30 cents and that it had authorized $15 billion in share repurchases, the Fed moved up its schedule by two days, to announce the stress test results at 4:30 Tuesday.One of the biggest sources of relief to investors was that Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) passed the tests, with an estimated Tier 1 common equity ratio under the adverse economic scenario of 5.7%, increasing to an estimated 5.9% at the end of 2013. Some analysts thought that Bank of America might fail the stress tests, even though the company did not include any plans for increases to its dividend or for share buybacks in its capital plan. KBW analyst Jefferson Harralson had said on Monday said that Bank of America's estimated Basel 1 Tier 1 common equity ratio could have wound up at 4.66% according to the Fed's stress test scenario, which could have brought tremendous pressure on the shares. Usdin on Wednesday pointed out that stress test results for SunTrust (STI) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) "disappointed, as the Fed objected to certain aspects of their plans, adding that "for smaller banks yet to report," he saw Comerica (CMA), Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) and Northern Trust (NTRS) as "best positioned to increase payouts this year." Please see TheStreet's stress test failure roundup for more on SunTrust and Fifth Third. The following are the three bank holding companies that Usdin says surprised "to the upside" in their approved capital payouts: