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.
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.