Smaller Is Better; MetLife Makes Us Wait; State Street Expects Punishment: Finance Winners & Losers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Thursday was a light trading day in the finance sector as a fake private equity firm, PTG Capital Partners dominated headlines with its (fake) bid to purchase Avon Products, Inc. (AVP). 

RealMoney Contributor Ed Ponsi predicts small regional banks will perform well when the Federal Reserve finally lifts rates. Ponsi points to the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KREhitting its one-year high on Tuesday. The exchange-traded fund is up 10% since February when Ponsi first recommended the buy. That's not to say you should avoid large banks, though, as the S&P Select Financial SPDR Fund (XLF) is also ticking upward, though just at a lower clip.


MetLife  (MET) traded down for most of Thursday, and CEO Steve Kandarian advised investors to review the company's free cash flow when judging performance. Unfortunately, that figure is provided only once a year which means investors have a nine-month wait ahead of them. Free cash flow is calculated by subtracting capital expenditures from operating cash flow. The figure is an indicator of a company's ability to develop new products, issue dividends, and reduce debt.

In MetLife's defense, calculating the figure on a quarterly basis can be difficult.

"A lot of work goes into calculating free cash flow, and it is too volatile on a quarterly basis to be meaningful," Calagna said in an email to Bloomberg.

Shares of Metlife closed at $53.15, up 5 cents from Wednesday.


Boston-based State Street Corp. (STT) said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that it expects enforcement action from the Federal Reserve and the Massachusetts Division of Banks regarding weaknesses in the company's adherence to the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering regulations and U.S. economic sanctions.

The bank said an independent adviser will probably be required to audit the firm's activities over a three-month period. State Street also acknowledged that it may be subject to fines if further deficiencies are found in the independent review.

State Street closed down 28 cents to $77.72.

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