Regarding the Autonomy mess, Whitman said that the "improprieties were discovered through an internal investigation after a senior member of Autonomy's leadership team came forward following the departure Autonomy founder Mike Lynch on May 23," and that the company had "SEC's Enforcement Division and the UK's Serious Fraud Office. We have requested that both agencies open criminal and civil investigations into this matter. In addition, HP intends to seek regress against various parties in the appropriate civil courts to recoup what we can for our shareholders." Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said that HP "posted a decent quarter and guided in-line for FY13," but that in addition to the Autonomy write-down, his firm was surprised by "a weak January quarter outlook implying a back-end loaded fiscal year which may raise concerns that guidance may need to be lowered in the future." Turning back to the financials, the KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) rose 1% to close at 48.56, after the Census Bureau announced that housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 in October from a revised 863,000 in September. It also reported that building permits declined to an annual rate of 866,000 in October from a revised 890,000 in September. On average, economists were expecting housing starts of 840,000 and building permits of 865,000 for last month, according to Briefing.com.
Regions Financial of Birmingham, Ala., has now seen its shares return 54% year-to-date, following last year's 38% decline. The shares trade for 0.9 times their reported Sept. 30 tangible book value of $7.02, and for nine times the consensus 2013 earnings estimate of 77 cents, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2014 EPS estimate is 82 cents. Regions has gone through a major transition during 2012, with the sale of its Morgan Keegan subsidiary in the first quarter, followed by a common equity raise and the company's second-quarter redemption of preferred shares held by the government for assistance received during 2008 through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP. The company currently pays a nominal quarterly dividend of a penny per common share, but investors are looking for a much more significant return of capital next year, especially since Regions reported a strong estimated Tier 1 common equity ratio of 10.5% as of Sept. 30.