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Capital One Flexes Muscle With Stress Test

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - A quick look at the Federal Reserve's stress test projections for Capital One (COF), show that the company could withstand a much worse credit firestorm than the one we just emerged.

The 19 holding companies subject to the Fed's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) for 2012 were stress-tested under a severe economic scenario that included real U.S. GDP contracting "sharply through late 2012, with the unemployment rate reaching a peak of just over 13 percent in mid-2013," while also assuming "that U.S. equity prices fall by 50 percent from their Q3 2011 values through late 2012 and that U.S. house prices fall by more than 20% through the end of 2013." In addition, under the Fed's adverse scenario, "foreign real GDP growth is also assumed to contract, with growth slowdowns in Europe and Asia in 2012."

3 Bank Stress Test Winners

In order to pass the stress tests, 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.

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."

Capital One is in the midst of a major transition in its business, through its recent acquisition of ING Direct (USA), which provided the needed liquidity for the company's coming purchase of HSBC's (HBC) $30 billion U.S credit card portfolio, for a $2.6 billion premium.

Capital One on Wednesday announced a $1.25 billion offering of common shares, to partially fund the HSBC card portfolio purchase, so it is no surprise that the company didn't include plans to raise dividends or repurchase shares during 2012, in its stress test data submission to the Federal Reserve.

Bank Stress Tests: Failure Roundup

Capital One also said on Wednesday that it expected "earnings per share from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2012 of at least $2.50, inclusive of an expected bargain purchase gain of approximately $600 million, or approximately $1.15 per share, related to the ING Direct Acquisition.

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