PNC: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- PNC Financial Services Group ( PNC) was the winner among the nation's largest banks on Monday, with shares rising 2.6% to close at $72.93.

The broad indices ended mixed, even though the Nikkei 225 rose 4.71% after Japan revised its first-quarter gross domestic product higher. The Japanese economy grew by an annualized 4.1% versus the original estimate of 3.5%, according to the country's Cabinet Office.

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) was up 0.6% to close at 61.93, after Standard & Poor's affirmed its "AA+" long-term and "A-1+" short-term credit ratings for the U.S. and raised its long-term rating outlook on the country to "stable" from "negative," to indicate the ratings agency's "view that the likelihood of a near-term downgrade of the rating is less than one in three."

"We believe that the U.S. monetary authorities have both the strong ability and willingness to support sustainable economic growth and to attenuate major economic or financial shocks. As a result, we expect the U.S. dollar to retain its long-established position as the world's leading reserve currency," S&P said in a statement.

S&P said there were "tentative improvements in two areas. First, "Republicans and Democrats did reach a deal to smooth the year-end-2012 'fiscal cliff', and this deal did result in some fiscal tightening beyond that envisaged in a similar agreement in 2011 , by allowing previous tax cuts to expire on high-income earners.

The second development cited by S&P was the major contribution to the U.S. Treasury coming from dividends paid by Fannie Mae ( FNMA) and Freddie Mac ( FMCC), together known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs. Fannie and Freddie were taken under government conservatorship in September 2008. Under the GSEs' revised bailout agreements, all profits, beyond $3 billion minimal capital buffers apiece, are paid to the government.

Dividends paid to the government by the GSEs have led the Congressional Budget Office to lower its estimates of future federal budget deficits. S&P said it expects "the U.S. general government deficit plus non-deficit borrowing requirements to fall to about 6% of GDP this year (down from 7%, in 2012) and to just less than 4% in 2015."

The reliance on GSE dividends for the improving fiscal picture underscores the point made by KBW analyst Bose George in a report on Sunday, when he wrote that private investors are unlikely to see any gain from their holdings in shares of Fannie and Freddie.


Shares of PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh have returned 26% this year, following a 4% return during 2012. The shares trade for 10.6 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $6.88, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $6.68.

Based on a quarterly payout of 44 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 2.41%.

PNC holds about 36 million common shares of BlackRock ( BX), with a carrying value of roughly $5.6 billion. Since the bank accounts for its BlackRock investment under the "equity method," its share of BlackRock's earnings carries through to its own financial statements. The stake had "a market value of near $11bn" as of May 22, according to Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Staite.

For 2012, PNC reported net income available to common shareholders of $2.8 billion, with $395 million attributed to the BlackRock stake.

Over the long haul, analysts expect PNC to sell the BlackRock stake, and comments by PNC Chief Financial Officer Rick Johnson at a conference in May seem to indicate a change in management's view on the subject.

Please see PNC Considers Selling BlackRock Stake for much more on PNC's financial results, Johnson's comments and analysts' reaction.

PNC Chart PNC data by YCharts

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


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

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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.