Morgan Stanley: Euro Rebound Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Morgan Stanley ( MS) was the winner among the largest U.S. financial names on Friday, with shares rising over 3% to close at $13.49.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5% and climbed over 13,000 for the first time since May 8, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite indexes both saw gains of 2%, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande issued a joint statement saying that "Germany and France are deeply committed to the integrity of the eurozone," and that the two countries "are determined to do everything to protect the eurozone."

The joint statement followed Thursday's statement by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, that "the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro," and "believe me, it will be enough."

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) rose 1.5% to close at 46.10, with all 24 index components showing gains for the session, except for First Niagara Financial Group ( FNFG), which was down over 2% to close at $7.22, and Huntington Bancshares, which was down a penny to close at $6.39.

First Niagara on Friday reported a second-quarter net loss to common shareholders of $18.5 million, or five cents a share, which included $135 million in expenses and restructuring charges tied to the company's acquisition of 100 branches from HSBC ( HBC), after First Niagara completed divestitures of roughly 100 branches.

Excluding the merger and restructuring charges, the Buffalo, N.Y., lender reported operating net income available to common shareholders of $59.1 million, or 17 cents a share, missing by a penny the consensus estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Deutsche Bank analyst Dave Rochester rates First Niagara a "Buy," and said that although his firm expects "investors to assign a discount to the shares versus peers given a relatively weaker capital position and the potential for future M&A, we continue to expect the differential in valuation between the stock and the midcap banks to shrink over time, driving share outperformance."

Rochester also said that during the second quarter, First Niagara's "organic loan growth and NIM trends were better than expected, and expenses came in below our expectations, offsetting a higher provision and driving a $0.01 beat versus our core EPS figure."

The analyst's price target for First Niagara is $9.50, and he estimates the company will post operating earnings of 69 cents a share for all of 2012, followed by operating EPS of 80 cents a share in 2013.

First Niagara's shares have now declined 15% year-to-date, after declining 35% during 2011.

FNFG Chart FNFG data by YCharts

The shares trade for 1.4 times their reported June 30 tangible book value of $5.30, and for nine times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of 84 cents. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is 75 cents.

Based on a quarterly payout of eight cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 4.43%.

Interested in more on First Niagara Financial Group? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Morgan Stanley's shares have now declined 10% year-to-date, after dropping 44% during 2011.

The shares trade for just 0.4 times their reported June 30 tangible book value of $31.02, and for less than seven times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.96. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is 90 cents.

Morgan Stanley reported sovereign and non-sovereign net exposure to "Euro Peripherals," including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, of $4.2 billion as of June 30, with another $1.4 billion in exposure to France. Investors could be looking at a recovery play, based on the company's very low multiple to book value, and the hope that two days of strong and vague words from European leaders will be followed by quick, concrete action.

Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Staite said on July 20, after Morgan Stanley announced its disappointing second-quarter results, that "Morgan Stanley is planning to cut risk weighted assets within its fixed income, currency and commodities trading division," and that "the near term impact will be to further reduce earnings but will not immediately lead to a liberation of capital that can be returned to shareholders."

The analyst rates Morgan Stanley "Underperform," with a $15 price target, and estimates the company will earn 63 cents a share for all of 2012, followed by 2013 EPS of $1.56.

MS Chart MS data by YCharts

Interested in more on Morgan Stanley? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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

>Contact by Email.

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 TheStreet.com 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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