Posts Tagged ‘stock market’

QE3 A Boon to CMBS

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

If history repeats itself, QE3 will be good for commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). The Fed’s third round of quantitative easing – which is purchasing $40 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) each month from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – will free up money for the commercial real estate market and lure investors away from other vehicles in their hunt for maximum yield.  QE3 is expected to last at least until 2015.

“The primary difference between 2012 and 2010 is that commercial property prices in healthy markets are stronger than they were just two years ago.  At its peak, CMBS constituted 40 percent of all commercial real estate loans,” said John O’Callahan of CoStar.  O’Callahan notes that “Investment returns of 40 percent or more for riskier assets during QE1 were largely a result of a bounce-back from the lows caused by investor panic in late 2008 through early 2009.  The overall impact of QE becomes clearer upon examining QE2.  Prices of equities and high-yield bonds, including CMBS, gained a respectable 12 to 15 percent.”

Low interest rates mean that returns will narrow to as little as 150 basis points, forcing investors to look elsewhere for respectable yields.  Currently, B-piece CMBS investors are achieving 20 percent and higher yields.  By contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s yield has remained below three percent each of the last 20 years.

CMBS has “been a boon for us,” said Kenneth Cohen, head of CMBS at UBS Securities.  “You’ve seen a fairly good size increase in loan pipelines.  Our pipeline has increased probably 50 percent over the last six weeks.”  Borrowers also are cashing in on the favorable loan terms.  According to Fitch Ratings, loans in 2012 are averaging 95.7 percent of a stressed property’s estimated value; that’s up from 91.6 percent in 2011.

Despite the good news, industry experts don’t expect the resurgent CMBS market to resolve all financing woes.  For example, the encouraging loan terms are of minimal help to commercial real estate owners who are under water, nor will new issuance be adequate to refinance the $54 billion in CMBS loans coming due this year.  Additionally, some ratings firms warn that the credit quality of CMBS loans could increase risk for some investors.  In response, Moody’s Investor Services’ now requires that senior bonds have expensive credit protection.

2012 Stock Market Off to a Promising Start

Monday, February 6th, 2012

As the stock market moved between negative and positive territory on the last day of January, 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was nevertheless poised to close with their biggest January gain in 15 years – despite closing down a few points for the day.  In fact, it could be the best January for Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Dow since 1997 and since 2001 for the Nasdaq.

“Everyone is cautiously waiting for the close today to see if we can put this on the board,” said Frank Davis, director of trading at LEK Securities.  “It would be a pretty darn good foothold to start the year.”  Stocks initially rose after European Union leaders agreed to strengthen their financial firewall.  Additionally, most members have agreed to sign a new fiscal compact.  Even so, 2012’s first summit ended without new solutions to resolve Greece’s debt crisis.  “There’s positive news coming out of Europe, but it’s still very tenuous with Greece,” said Jeffrey Phillips, chief investment officer of Rehmann Financial.  “Every time we see something positive there, we seem to see it reverse in four or five days.”

The S&P 500 rose 4.3 percent in January, which is its best performance since the 6.1 percent gain that occurred in January of 1997.  One year ago, the market added a respectable 2.3 percent in January.  Following a trying 2011, investors had such low expectations that it’s easy for the year’s earliest reports to come in better than expected, said Jerry Harris, chief investment strategist at the brokerage firm Sterne Agee.  “I don’t see anything really glamorous or tremendous about the economy or earnings,” Harris said.  “But I think they’re very acceptable, and things are grinding along.”

“Longer-term investors should not be fooled by what appear to be attractive valuations for financials,” said Brian Belski, Oppenheimer & Co.’s chief investment strategist.  Any investor should look three to five years into the future and invest less money in these stocks than their S&P 500 weight would suggest because they account for roughly 14 percent of the index’s value.  The financial index was recently valued at 12.4 times earnings, which is about twice as high as it was two years ago.  “Most of these companies operate in a ‘whole new world’ of increased scrutiny and regulation,” Belski wrote, noting that more restrictive capital requirements, imposed as part of that shift, will hurt profitability.

The European debt crisis is a major culprit in the market’s volatility. Confidence that American markets can remain relatively unaffected by Europe’s difficulties has fueled gains in 2012.  Money managers, some of whom missed the upward move, seem to be willing to buy on day-to-day declines.  “The action that we’ve seen today is very similar to what we’ve seen throughout most of the year so far,” said Ryan Larson, head of equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management.  “We see the resilience showing in U.S. markets and I think that’s a theme that we’ve seen throughout 2012.  The U.S. appears to be slowly, slowly in the early stages of a decoupling from the Eurozone,” he said.

Chris Cordaro, chief investment officer at RegentAtlantic Capital, a wealth management firm, believes equities will finish sharply higher this year as Europe’s problems are resolved and investors buy into stock valuations that were beaten down through much of last year.  “We could definitely end the year much higher on equities,” he said.  “We have been favoring equities in our portfolio. We have just increased our exposure to emerging markets.”

More bad news came January 31 when the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 61.1, missing the forecast 68.  December’s level had experienced a slight upwards tick to 64.8 from 64.5.  “The US consumer has still seen a very firm turnaround since October, this also is likely to reflect the increase in gasoline prices since the start of the year,” wrote David Semmens, U.S. economist with Standard Chartered.  “While the U.S. consumer is feeling better, the turnaround is still likely to be volatile.”

“Most market participants will raise their glasses to usher out what has proved to be a decent January for performance, data and sentiment,” said Jim Reid, a global strategist at Deutsche Bank AG.

Banks Getting Healthier

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Bank earnings rose to their highest level in more than four years, while the number of troubled banks declined for the second consecutive quarter.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said the banking industry earned $35.3 billion in the 3rd quarter, an increase from the $23.8 billion reported in the same timeframe last year.  More than 60 percent of banks reported improved earnings.  According to the FDIC, there currently are 844 banks on its confidential “problem”, or roughly 11.5 percent of all federally insured banks.  That was down from 865 between April and June, and was first quarter in five years to show a decline.

“After three years of shrinking loan portfolios, any loan growth is positive news for the industry and the economy,” said Martin Gruenberg, FDIC’s acting chairman.  Lending has not yet reached healthy levels.  So far in 2011, 90 banks have failed.  That’s a significant improvement over the 157 banks that were shuttered last year — the most for one year since the darkest days of the 1992 savings and loan crisis — and the 140 in 2009.

The FDIC’s so-called problem bank list consists of the institutions considered most likely to fail, though few actually are shuttered.  Only 26 of the nation’s 7,436 banks failed in the 3rd quarter, 15 fewer than the same period of 2010.  “The trend has been improving, but the current number of failures and problem institutions remains high by historical standards,” Gruenberg said.

Banks whose assets exceed $10 billion drove of the earnings growth. They account for just 1.4 percent of all banks but accounted for about $29.8 billion of the industry’s earnings in the 3rd quarter.  Those are the biggest banks, such as Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.  The majority of these banks have recovered with help from federal bailout money and record-low borrowing rates.

Writing on MarketWatch, Ronald D. Orol says that “It is unclear whether the reduction in troubled banks on the list is a result of institutional failures or improvements.  In the 3rd quarter there were 26 bank failures and 21 banks dropped off the problem bank list.  In the 2nd quarter there were 22 bank failures and 23 banks came off the problem bank list.  It is possible that a bank fails so fast that it is never on the problem list.  FDIC-insured institutions posted net income of $35.3 billion in the 3rd quarter, an increase of $11.5 billion, or 48 percent, compared to a year earlier.  The profits were at the highest level since the 2nd quarter of 2007, the FDIC said.  However, Martin Gruenberg said that even though the industry is generally profitable, the recovery is ‘by no means’ complete.  He noted that a central concern for the agency is whether banks can generate income from a greater demand for loans, something that is still lacking.  He said that the industry has seen income gains generated from improvements in credit quality and the ability to reduce loss provisions but that to really generate income and revenue, funding for loans is going to have to expand and that ‘depends on the overall economy.’  The key issue is going to be whether there can be a pick up in economic activity and generate demand for loans.  Ongoing distress in real-estate markets and slow growth in jobs and incomes still pose a threat to bank credit quality.”

The majority of banks that have struggled or failed have been small or regional institutions.  They rely a lot on commercial property and development loans, sectors that have lost a lot of money.  As companies closed during the recession, they vacated shopping malls and office buildings financed by those loans.  Nevertheless, large banks are less profitable than they were before the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008, leading to some sizable layoffs.  Some credit rating agencies have been warning that the European debt crisis could hit the largest American banks.  Financial companies’ stocks have been especially beat up in the stock market’s volatility in recent months.

“We continue to see income growth that reflects improving asset quality and lower loss provisions,” Gruenberg said.  “U.S. banks have come a long way from the depths of the financial crisis.  Bank balance sheets are strong in a number of ways, and the industry is generally profitable, but the recovery is by no means complete.”  The banking industry also saw a 0.5 percent rise in net operating revenue compared with 2010, thanks in part to a $3.2 billion — or 5.8 percent — increase in non-interest income, the first year-over-year increase in nearly two years.  “Absent these unrealized gains, net operating revenue would have posted a year-over-year decline for a third consecutive quarter,” Gruenberg concluded.

Will the Stock Market Recovery Continue in 2011?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Will the Stock Market Recovery Continue in 2011?  With the stock market ending its best December since 1987, there is hope that 2011 will see a strong Wall Street recovery.  One source of hope is the fact that the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has returned to its pre-Lehman Brothers level.  It joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Russell 2000 in seeing strong improvements in their levels.  Stocks have risen 20 percent in just four months.

The recent surge was helped by performance chasing.  The proportion of money managers lagging their benchmarks by five percent has increased from 12 percent at the end of October to 22 percent in the middle of December and trimming their risk exposure “on the presumption that the markets had reached the upper end of a trading range,” said JPMorgan’s Thomas Lee.  BTIG’s Mike O’Rourke, chief market strategist, believes the purchase of hard assets as a hedge against depreciating currencies has helped drive the price of oil to above $90 per barrel.  He also points to high silver and copper prices – with the latter at an all-time high.  “There is no doubt commodities have performed well even though the dollar has not broken down, but the question is how long will it take before speculators bail on the trade,” O’Rourke said.

Wall Street market strategists are consistently bullish, generally forecasting 2011 gains of 10 to 17 percent, with Deutsche Bank forecasting gains of as much as 25 percent Main Street investors are equally upbeat: Recent polls indicate the greatest level of optimism since 2007, with the bullish crowd surging to 63 percent of those queried, with just 16 percent claiming bearishness.

Will Yankees World Series Victory Unleash the Bulls on Wall Street?

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Odd correlation between Yankees World Series victories and Wall Street.  There’s a rather odd correlation between the New York Yankees winning the World Series and Wall Street.   A Yankee win historically has coincided with a bull market.  An analysis by Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ reveals an average of double-digit yearly returns from stocks when the Yankees win the World Series.  By contrast, the stock market tends to fall in years when the Yankees lose the championship.

An analysis of the 22 years since 1936 in which the Yankees won the World Series found that the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose a minimum of 10 percent over the previous year.  By contrast, when the Yankees lose the World Series, stocks fell 13 percent on average.  Additionally, when the series ends after six games (as happened this year), the average return rises to 15 percent.  The average fell to just eight percent if the series goes for seven games.

Despite the Yankees’ record, Wall Street tends to prefer National League victories versus the American League.  An analysis of the 30 World Series wins by National League teams since 1936 show that the stock market rose an average of 15 percent the following year.

There are exceptions to the rule.  When the Yankees won the 1936 World Series, the stock market declined 34.7 percent over the next year.  The worst record belongs to the Boston Red Sox, who saw the stock market decline by 37 percent after their 2008 World Series victory.  Coincidence or not, it will be interesting to see if this yardstick proves true this time around.

Stock Market Heads Toward 10,000 Mark

Monday, September 28th, 2009

The recent upward trend of the stock market has led investment experts to believe that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will soon pass the 10,000 mark  for the first time in a year.

Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jeffries & Co., and Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager at Permanent Portfolio Funds, believe it will happen sooner rather than later.

invest“I think we’ll see [10,000] before the end of the year,” Cuggino told CNBC.  “We’re going to continue to see momentum in earnings growth in the third and fourth quarters and that’s going to propel stocks further.”

Cuggino said the markets may be in for a wild ride but they have come a long way in 2009, but he believes economic trends are “ones of growth” and will rally the markets.

Peckham believes the Dow will reach 10,000 in a few weeks.

“My bigger question is that when we will see earnings results in the third quarter — the bar has been raised pretty dramatically and the expectation is for a much more significant improvement in the topline from corporate America,” Peckham said.  “So it’s imperative that we have a real good sense of where expectations lie going into the third quarter, relative to stock prices.”

The harder question is when we will see the buoyant stock market and recuperating earnings affect the labor market.  This is the real indication of recovery.

Investors Still Wary of Distressed Assets

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Commercial real estate investors are taking a wait-and-see attitude before jumping in and buying distressed assets, according to an Ernst & Young study.  “We haven’t seen many portfolio transactions so far,” says the study’s author, Chris Seyfarth, who is national director of E&Y’s non-performing loans.  “Given the size and the magnitude of the untitledproblem with banks, I think the expectation is that at some point we’ll start seeing sizable portfolio transactions.”

According to the E&Y study, 53 percent of respondents have purchased distressed or non-performing loans in the last 18 months.  Another 45 percent believe it is too early to even think of buying non-performing loans.  Distressed assets are “piling up faster than they’re being resolved,” Seyfarth says.  “The broad view is that commercial real estate assets are getting worse, not better, and that’s going to impact financial institutions.  The issue is that the price expectations are different between the two players, and in some cases significantly different.”

Only 35 percent of those investors claim to have return requirements above 20 percent, and an equal number actually are shooting for returns in the 10 percent to 15 percent range,” Seyfarth concludes.  Once the anticipated tsunami of distressed assets his the market, it could be met with a rush of pent-up capital, all trying to get the best deals at the same time – which may, ironically, further cushion price declines, resulting in a more competitive investment market.

News about the spike in housing starts and the buoyancy of the stock market, which has recaptured $3 billion in value in just a few months, suggests that the recession has at least stabilized and economic recovery is near.  This should encourage increased liquidity in the credit markets, eventually supporting the commercial real estate investment market.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Tuesday, March 10’s 379.44 stock market spike – the best finish since Thanksgiving – came on the heels of Citigroup, Inc.’s news that it had made a healthy profit during the first two months of 2009.  At the end of the day, the stock market had soared to a 6,926.49 close.

man-with-cigarSo, what did it?  It wasn’t a bold move by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.  It wasn’t the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  It wasn’t hope.  It wasn’t a government plan.

The catalyst that triggered the 5.8 percent Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market rise was honest-to-God good news.  The revelation was in the form of a leaked memo written by Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit stating that the banking giant had enjoyed its best financial performance in more than a year.  The memo, written to reassure the bank’s employees about its stability, said that Citigroup had recorded an operating profit of $8.3 billion before taxes and special items through the end of February.  This was Citigroup’s best performance since the third quarter of 2007 and puts it into a sound cash position.

The memo did not detail what the special items involved, but they could include credit losses and writedowns.  Still, the news kicked off a buying frenzy.  Worldwide financial stocks rose, with Citigroup up 38 percent for the day.

Broader indices like the Standard & Poors 500 index rose 43.07 to 719.60; NASDAQ soared 89.64 points to 1,358.28.