NEW YORK (
Editor's Note: This is a new column at TheStreet, called "Wall Street Whispers." It will take a look at what various media -- news sites, blogs, notes from analysts and investment firms -- are buzzing about, and run down the latest chatter we're hearing about Wall Street.
A Long Slog
If there was any doubt about the main thing
holding back bank stocks,
attempted to clear away any confusion on Wednesday:
"Investors' biggest concern with financial stocks is the earnings overhang from regulatory reform," Citi analyst Keith Horowitz wrote in a note to investors.
Horowitz went on to point out the obvious -- that finreg stands to hurt big banks with heavy exposure to the capital markets the most -- but he also quantified the potential damage. According to his calculations,
would face the biggest hit to the bottom line, with finreg potentially chipping 23% off of normalized earnings per share.
would face a 20% earnings hit, followed by
at 18% and
Bank of America
Unsurprisingly, small community banks, mid-size savings and loans, credit-card processors and trust banks avoid any major damage.
Adding to the pain may be a
U.K. bonus tax which stands to sap $2 billion from big U.S. banks' second-quarter results.
The financial fears are absolutely warranted, and the market appears to have priced most of it in: The stocks of big banks are down anywhere from 15% to 25% since April 15. The firms Horowitz highlights as less exposed have performed in a range roughly 10 points higher over the same period of time.
President Obama would like a finreg bill on his desk to sign by July 4, and Congress is targeting delivery ahead of summer recess. But those expecting a light at the end of the bank-stock tunnel by Independence Day may end up disappointed.
Second-quarter earnings will be coming out in the weeks following the bill's tentative finale, and they may not be rosy. Goldman Chief Financial Officer David Viniar has told analysts not to expect blockbuster results, because market participants have been paralyzed by euro woes, finreg and ongoing economic concerns.
Meanwhile, the homebuying/refinancing spree slowed down thanks to the expiration of a tax credit, meaning weaker results for those relying on mortgage-servicing operations to boost the bottom line. There are also indications that U.S. consumers are spending and swiping less, which bodes poorly for those that rely on card fees, as well as economic growth generally.
In other words, unless the market is negative enough to expect less than what comes from July -- or we're in an underpromise, overdeliver situation -- it may take awhile for bank stocks to get back to where they were in the spring.
More on FinReg 5 Banks That Might Get Burned by Reform
Mr. Fix It
If there's one thing medieval Slavics didn't expect, it's that czars might one day be benevolent.
The Obama administration's "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg is now splitting his time between cracking down on financial CEOs and figuring out the details of
$20 billion escrow account to help people in the Gulf of Mexico who are suffering as a result of its reckless oil drilling.
Feinberg has experience in distributing funds to those who were struck by unexpected disaster. He was also the man in charge of making sure 9/11 victims -- and not their attorneys -- got compensated for their woes.
As someone who has become a one-size-fits-all Mr. Fix It, one has to wonder why Feinberg is simply an underling who
gets things done, rather than the guy in charge. He's taken on powerful lawyers, powerful politicians and powerful executives in the insurance, banking, auto and now energy industries. He's navigated the bureaucracy effectively on both sides of the political aisle, having been appointed by the Bush administration for the 9/11 fund, and Obama administration for CEO pay and BP punishment.
If he has no interest in running for office, there's
at least one regulatory agency that could use a dose of his medicine.
Odds & Ends
The delisting of
appeared shocking at first because it seemed like the government might actually be doing something about the two huge gaping holes of taxpayer losses that have been
trading like ping-pong balls for 19 months . Then Federal Housing Finance Agency assured us that
Finreg doesn't seem to be as tough on the compensation issue as Feinberg, but European regulators are certainly getting in their digs. Still, it
doesn't seem like any meaningful, long-term compensation reform has occurred.
I haven't paid much attention to trust banks since Bank of America was trying to steal away
Bank of New York Mellon's
CEO. Trust banks seem shielded from controversy or regulatory crackdowns so they haven't been in headlines much either. But given that the second quarter is a seasonally strong period for them, along with all the currency moves recently and relatively stable interest rates, trust banks may be the one area that yields a surprise to the positive side.
-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York