Banks Slow With Investors' Foreclosure Bill: Street Whispers

Updated to include a statements from Wells Fargo and SunTrust Bank.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Ten of the nation's largest housing lenders have settled with the Federal Reserve and the Office of Controller of Currency (OCC) for $8.5 billion on improper foreclosure practices between 2009 and 2010.

While some lenders like Bank of America ( BAC) and Citigroup ( C) quickly spelled out the price tag of the settlement for investors, other banks involved such as JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Wells Fargo ( WFC) were notably slow to offer up details.

For investors, the disparity in disclosures between banks involved in the settlement raises the question of why all the secrecy?

Bank of America said that the settlement and a $10 billion deal cut with Fannie Mae on faulty mortgage securities Monday will create two separate charges of $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion, which will eliminate most of the bank's expected fourth quarter profit.

In press releases, Citigroup and US Bancorp ( USB) said the foreclosure review will shave off $305 million and $80 million in fourth quarter earnings, respectively, as a result of the cash component of the settlement. Citigroup will contribute a further $500 million and US Bancorp $128 million to mortgage assistance and loan modifications as part of the non-cash component of the settlement, they added in Monday morning press releases listed on their websites.

For others involved in the settlement, the costs of Monday's deal -- called the independent foreclosure review -- were less apparent to the ordinary investing public.

Only after the market close was Wells Fargo able to quantify the costs of the settlement to investors.

Wells Fargo said it will pay $766 million for the cash portion of the settlement, in a move that will create a $644 million charge to the company's fourth quarter earnings due on Friday. Wells Fargo added in the statement sent after the market close it will also commit a further $1.2 billion to foreclosure prevention actions, which the lender said has already been provisioned for.

"We are pleased that the regulators and servicers came together to reach this settlement, which will bring resolution to more borrowers in an expedited manner," Mike Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said in an e-mailed statement.

Metlife ( MET) said in an emailed statement sent to TheStreet that it will take a $37 million pre-tax hit to earnings it characterized as "not material to the company."

"MetLife has been fully cooperating with the OCC look back process and has agreed to join the settlement with the major banks. MetLife's portion of the $8.5 billion settlement is $37 million pre-tax and is not material to the company," John Calagna, a MetLife spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement.

JPMorgan, meanwhile, says it will disclose the costs of a settlement in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that hadn't been filed as of Monday's market close.

" We will be filing an 8k," wrote JPMorgan spokesperson Amy Bonitatibus, in an email.

"We worked very hard over the last eighteen months fulfilling our obligations under the Independent Foreclosure Review and are pleased to have it now behind us," Bonitatibus added in an emailed statement. In a follow up phone conversation she was unable to confirm whether JPMorgan will submit its filing on Monday.

Bloomberg News reports that the cash portion of the settlement may cost JPMorgan $700 million, citing anonymous sources.

"We have not announced any associated charge against earnings at this time," Marcey Zwiebel, a spokesperson for PNC Financial, said in an email. "We believe today's agreement provides a benefit to eligible borrowers on a shorter timetable than the original review. Our payment will be proportional to our customers' representation among the 3.8 million eligible borrowers, which is approximately 2 percent," the email added.

SunTrust ( STI) - the other publicly traded U.S. lender named in Monday's settlement - declined to disclose its financial costs stemming from the settlement.

"We are pleased to have reached this agreement, and believe it represents an important step forward in resolving legacy mortgage issues," Michael McCoy, a SunTrust spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement.

The variance in disclosure of the Federal Reserve and OCC brokered settlement among the publicly traded lenders raises questions as to whether investors have been fully informed of the prospective fourth quarter earnings hit.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup are all taking noticeable earnings hits because they will be adding on provisions previously set aside to cover the costs of any settlement in the foreclosure review. While the $8.5 billion total is in line with previous sketches of a deal, the $3.3 billion in cash lenders will collectively pay out to homeowners in foreclosure is a new development.

For Bank of America investors, the Independent Foreclosure Review settlement and a $10 billion deal with Fannie Mae appears to have the biggest impact. In total, both settlements appear they will cost the bank in excess of $5 billion.

Bank of America will make a cash payment to Fannie Mae of $3.6 billion and also repurchase for $6.75 billion certain residential mortgage loans in a settlement announced prior to Monday's stock market open. In that deal, Bank of America said it would take a hit to fourth quarter earnings by way of a $2.7 billion increase in its provision for representations and warranty costs with the GSE.

Further down a press release announcing a flurry of developments to the bank's mortgage lending operations, Bank of America goes on to state its earnings will take a further $2.5 billion pre-tax hit in the fourth quarter for its Independent Foreclosure Review settlement.

Bank of America also announced a deal to sell $306 billion in mortgage servicing rights to Nationstar Mortgage ( NSM), Walter Investment Management ( WAC) and Newcastle Investment Corp ( NCT).

While, a flurry of accounting items will color Bank of America's earnings in addition to settlement costs, the bank closed its Monday presser with a dim outlook for fourth quarter profit.

"Taking into account the effects of all the items above, Bank of America expects earnings per share to be modestly positive for the fourth quarter of 2012," the bank said in a press release.

As part of the IFR settlement, the Fed and OCC said on Monday announced that the foreclosure review had ended, and that the servicers subject to the foreclosure settlement would make $8.5 billion in cash payments and other assistance to borrowers victimized by servicing errors.

Borrowers could receive up to $125,000 each, in a deal that is split between $3.3 billion in direct payments to eligible borrowers and $5.2 billion in other assistance such as modifications.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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