Now, the words "Credit Suisse" still echo in my mind because I was the last First Boston floor trader who worked on the NYSE floor as an actual trader before Credit Suisse retired the "First Boston" name in 2006. Sure, there are a couple of colleagues still working down there who remain from the Donaldson side of the 2000 First Boston/Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette merger. But I think I was the last one who ever wore a First Boston badge.
Long gone are the shares that I had accumulated as an employee -- I'm currently flat on CS -- but perhaps it's time to revisit that. Credit Suisse's reputation isn't what it used to be, and the stock price reflects that.
Now, Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) might be openly duking it out with the U.S. Department of Justice, but Credit Suisse has been in less-publicized discussions with the DOJ as well. The Internal Revenue Service has also come a knockin' to look for accounts of U.S. citizens who might be hiding money in Switzerland, so Credit Suisse has frozen a number of accounts in response.
Seems negative right? Yet since the Brexit referendum, Credit Suisse has out-performed Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank (CRZBY) , Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) , UBS Group (UBS - Get Report) and Societe Generale (SCGLY) , not to mention the Italian banks.
Let's look at some of Credit Suisse's potential positives:
A Good Macro Environment
Like most banks, CS "popped" in the U.S. election's wake (not to mention a rating upgrade from Bank of America). However, the stock's price has come back down since then as European uncertainty grew going into several electoral events (the Italian referendum, etc.)
Still, Bank of America's upgrade makes some sense. After all, higher interest rates and a stronger U.S. dollar will soon meet up with U.S. corporate tax cuts and fiscal stimulus.
That will likely produce an increase in investment banking. Consider the fact that higher interest rates could curtail corporate stock-repurchase programs even as repatriated dollars come into America at reduced tax rates, giving U.S. companies plenty of cash. All of that cash could beget mergers and acquisitions.
Credit Suisse has created a subsidiary bank in Switzerland that caters to traditional retail, corporate and investment-banking clients, and has pushed more than 1 million clients into this new business.
And as for the bank's DOJ problems, a new U.S. administration that seems far more business friendly than the outgoing crew means that there's chance that any settlement could be less severe.
The Bottom Line
Credit Suisse is currently priced at around $13.65 a share, which means it's not a very expensive stock.
Now, we're still talking about a European bank, so CS is playing in a "tough neighborhood" of negative interest rates and quantitative easing. That means there's certainly some risk with the stock.
Credit Suisse has bounced firmly off of levels between $12.25 and $12.50 a share twice this year, but has been stopped dead at $15 on multiple occasions. But CS has been remarkably stable since the market's January sell-off, except for some volatility in the aftermaths of both Britain's Brexit vote in June and the U.S. presidential election in November.
Add it all up and my guess is this name is now worthy of speculative consideration. Here are the details of this trade:
The Trade: Go long on Credit Suisse
Current Price: $13.61 a share
Modest Target: $15 (about +9.9% from current prices)
Aggressive Target: $17.50 (a roughly 38.2% Fibonacci retracement from October 2014 highs through the June 2016 lows.)
Stop Loss: $12.50