Fifth Third Bancorp: Financial Loser

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) was the loser among the largest U.S. financial names on Thursday, with shares declining 3% to close at $13.73.

The broad saw 1% declines, after the U.S. Labor Department reported that jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 386,000 in the week ended Apr. 14, from an upwardly revised 388,000 in the previous week. The number was worse than expected, as economists polled by Reuters expected a total of 370,000 new jobless claims filings.

The four-week moving jobless claim emplaverage was 374,750, an increase of 5,500 from the previous week's 369,250. The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 26,000 in the week ended Apr. 7 to 3.3 million.

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) declined 1% to close at 47.83, with 20 out of 24 index components showing declines for the session.

Fifth Third Bancorp's shares have now returned 9% year-to-date, following an 11% decline during 2011.

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The Cincinnati lender followed the industry trend, reporting that mortgage revenue doubled during the first quarter, with first-quarter earnings of 45 cents a share, beating the consensus estimate of 36 cents.

However, the first-quarter results included several one-time items, including a $115 million pretax benefit (roughly $75 million, or eight cents a share, after tax) from gains from the initial public offering of Fifth Third's Vantiv ( VNTV) subsidiary, a $36 million pretax charge ($23 million, or two cents a share, after tax), "from Vantiv debt termination-related charges recorded in equity method earnings," and a "benefit of $46 million pre-tax (approximately $30 million after-tax, or $0.03 per share), from gains on the higher valuation of the warrant Fifth Third holds in Vantiv."

Excluding the above one-time items, first-quarter operating earnings of 36 cents would match the consensus estimate.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Erika Penala rates Fifth Third a "Buy," with a $16 price objective, and said on Thursday

Looking past the one-time items, Penala calculated "core EPS" of 37 cents for the first quaeter, and said that "while the quarter, and guidance, pointed to continued positive momentum, we note that this has been a "consensus long" into the quarter," and that "as such, it is hard for us to say how the stock will react to results that were very much in line with projections, given high expectations."

The shares trade for 1.2 times their reported March 31 tangible book value of $11.64 and eight times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.53. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is $1.44.

Interested in more on Fifth Third Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Shares of New York Community Bancorp ( NYB) declined 2% to close at $13.05. The shares have now returned 8% year-to-date, following a 30% decline during 2011.

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The company on Wednesday reported continued earnings strength with first-quarter strong mortgage revenue supporting a 1.13% return on average assets, compared to 1.12% the previous quarter, and 1.15% a year earlier. The return on average tangible equity was a strong 15.90% during the first quarter, compared to 15.80% in the fourth quarter, and 16.21%, in the first quarter of 2011.

Investor concerns over New York Community Bancorp continue to center on the company's ability to continue paying its very attractive quarterly dividend of 25 cents a share, which translated to a yield of 7.66% at Thursday's close.

The company has maintained the dividend for 33 consecutive quarters.

Citigroup analyst Josh Levin on Thursday reiterated his "Sell" rating for New York Community Bancorp, with an $11 price target, saying that when Citi "initiated coverage on NYB earlier this month, our Sell rating was premised on the view that NYB's dividend was at greater risk of being cut than what was priced into the stock" because of regulators' discomfort over a high payout ratio.

Levin mentioned that Astoria Financial ( AF) on Wednesday slashed its quarterly dividend to four cents from 13 cents, although Astoria's first-quarter EPS of 11 cents, 0.29% return on average assets and 4.58% return on average tangible equity, painted a far different picture than New York Community's performance.

Levin said that "incremental negatives" for New York Community Bancorp include a flattening yield curve, which will affect pricing of the company's bread-and-butter multifamily lending, strong growth in commercial real estate lending, rather than in core multifamily lending, and the possibility that New York Community could lose a $546 million loan to Co-op City in New York, through a government-assisted refinancing, which the analyst estimates could shave "a few basis points" from the ender's net interest margin.

Levin estimates that the NYB will earn $1.05 a share this year, followed by 2013 EPS of $1.09.

Interested in more on New York Community Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.


-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn.

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Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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