NEW YORK (
) -- The market sell-off since the May 6 "flash crash" has spared none of the country's 50 largest banks.
looked at share price performance of the top 50 banks by assets since that date, and they were all lower through the middle of last week.
But which were the worst performers from the May 5 close through Friday? Despite the fact that Eurozone worries whacked big banks with global exposure like
Bank of America
, they were nowhere near the bottom of the list, finishing 17th and 25th, respectively.
Taking a look at some of the biggest losers during the sell-off may be a good place to look for high-beta names that could produce outsized gains if the market takes a sustained turn for the better.
We eliminated the biggest loser of all,
The South Financial Group
( TSFG), because it was acquired by
in a deal announced May 17.
Here are the five next worst performing bank stocks during the period.
East West Bancorp
Pasadena, Calif.-based East West Bancorp lost 19% from the May 5 close through Friday. East West may be the best example of a bank that transformed its fortunes through an
noted in December.
East West, had been struggling until it raised $500 million to help it buy UCB Holdings in November, effectively doubling its size. The investors who participated in that offering were prohibited from selling until May 6 of this year.
"The stock did give them a 100% return so it would be hard to justify not taking some gains," says Julianna Balicka, analyst with Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, though she notes many are long-term holders.
Susquehanna shares fell 20% from the May 5 close through Friday. Avi Barak, an analyst with Sandler O'Neill, thinks the investors were compensating for the run-up in the Lititz, Pa.-based bank's stock ahead of the flash crash, causing it to outperform relative to the broader market. Susquehanna's stock soared 27% from March 12 through May 5, vs. an 8% rise for the
SPDR KBW Bank ETF
"It just happened to be that when the market cracked they had just run up so much that they had more to fall," Barak says.
Barak says the bank's shares had been heavily shorted, but he suspects many short-sellers covered their position after Susquehanna successfully raised about $300 million in equity and $500 million in trust preferred securities in March. Susquehanna got a further boost when the government allowed it to repay $200 million of the $300 million in preferred equity it got through from the Treasury's bailout.
"It tells the Street that the government feels comfortable more or less with where Susquehanna stands right now," Barak says.
Still, Barak, who has a "hold" on Susquehanna, does not believe it would be a special beneficiary if the market were to run up, because he thinks its pullback was more a reversion to the mean after the strong run-up in the weeks preceding May. 6.
Puerto Rico's largest bank lost 21% from the May 5 close through Friday.
Sandler's Barak, who does not formally cover Popular but follows the Puerto Rican banking market, says Popular had traded up on the assumption that it would benefit from consolidation among banks that operate on the island. Once the consolidation actually occurred, the benefits were already priced into the stock.
"The trade to be long BPOP got so crowded that after they announced their FDIC deal, the stock actually decreased, because a lot of the people didn't actually want to own BPOP, they just wanted to get the typical pop from an
," Barak says.
The phenomenon of a selloff after a bank makes an
became increasingly common throughout the industry after investors caught on to the benefits of such deals and started bidding up shares of potential acquirers.
Troy, Mich.-based Flagstar saw its shares lose 32% from the May 5 close through Friday. No major news developments appear to have occurred during that period, except that the company performed a 10-for-1 reverse stock split.
contributor Tim Melvin called Flagstar "the ultimate undated call option on the real estate and banking recovery," in a June 2 article.
FBR Capital Markets rates the stock "market perform." In an April 29 report, analyst Paul Miller wrote that first-quarter earnings "disappointed on weaker revenues and continued credit deterioration with nonperforming assets increasing by about 5% to $1.35 billion."
Miller argued that the shares, which were at the equivalent of $6.80 at the time after taking the split into account, would "likely be range-bound until investors can get a better handle on when FBC will return to profitability and what normalized earnings for the more commercial-bank oriented company might look like."
The shares closed at $3.73 on Friday, and investors with a big risk appetite might want to take a close look at Flagstar.
San Juan, Puerto Rico-based First Bancorp saw its shares fall 45% from the May 5 close through Friday.
Brett Scheiner, analyst at FBR Capital Markets, says First Bancorp was trying to raise capital to participate in the deal activity in Puerto Rico as the FDIC moved to clean up several troubled institutions on the island.
"When they weren't able to raise capital and they didn't participate in the cleanup of the island, they were left on their own," Sheiner says. "And the reason the stock has traded off so significantly is they are running a very, very stressed loan portfolio and are at particularly thin capital levels so without the catalyst of doing an FDIC-assisted deal, investors have been less interested in the company. They are fighting that headwind much more than they are the market being down," Sheiner says.
First Bancorp announced on June 4 that it's reached an agreement with regulators to raise additional capital and reduce non-performing assets.
Written by Dan Freed in New York
Take a look at the
from the May 5 close through Tuesday.