Deep Dive: These bank stocks could enjoy a ‘major rally’ as Fed gives unprecedented support, says longtime analyst

Dick Bove of Odeon Capital has made it clear in recent days that the coronavirus crisis and longer-term challenges to the banking industry have made bank stocks unattractive despite their recent declines.

But now, with the Federal Reserve doing everything it can to assure liquidity, and Congress expected to pass what may turn out to be a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, “there are a number of stocks that could be attractive for trading here,” he wrote in a note to clients March 24.

The important words are “trading here,” which means Bove isn’t recommending these stocks as long-term investments.

Here are Bove’s trading “buys” from the March 24 report:

• Two universal banks: J.P. Morgan Chase

JPM, +6.95%

 and Bank of America

BAC, +6.62%.

• Two regional banks: M&T Bank Corp.

MTB, +5.99%

 of Buffalo, N.Y., and SVB Financial

SIVB, +9.29%

 of Santa Clara, Calif.

• Two preferred stocks issued by government-sponsored enterprises: Fannie Mae series S

FNMAS, -8.77%

  and Freddie Mac series K

FMCKJ, -9.94%.

Dividends have been suspended on both since the GSEs were taken under government conservatorship in September 2008. Both are speculative plays on the eventual return of the GSEs to private control, along with a restoration of the preferred dividends and eventual redemption of the preferred. FNMAS has a $25 par value and closed at $5.20 on March 23. FMCKJ has a $25 par value and closed at $4.80 on March 23.

In a report March 23, Bove wrote that the GSEs were “generating enough profit to see that these securities should be paid a dividend” on the preferred shares. If and when that happens, they will trade closer to par.

Bove on March 24 predicted “a major rally is likely to occur immediately,” because of the “unlimited” buying of U.S. Treasury and government agency securities announced by the Federal Reserve on March 23.

The analyst wrote that the Fed’s actions and expected stimulus from Congress would not change the bank’s “earnings outlooks,” which means long-term investors are still likely to see a rocky ride as the U.S. economy moves through the cornavirus crisis, its severe disruption of various industries and the aftermath. So exercise caution.

Here’s how the four common stocks Bove recommended as stimulus-rally trades have performed, excluding dividends:

Bank Ticker Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

US:JPM

-43% 43%
Bank of America Corp

US:BAC

-49% 43%
M&T Bank Corporation

US:MTB

-48% 19%
SVB Financial Group

US:SIVB

-43.% 32%
Source: FactSet

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