Central Fidelity Banks Inc. has become the latest bank to announce a major restructuring of its securities portfolio, prompted by rising interest rates that will cut deep into 1994 earnings.
Central Fidelity, which is based in Richmond, Va. said it would take a securities loss of about $30 million pretax in the fourth quarter, which will have the effect of reducing its overall 1994 earnings per share by 50 cents.
Central Fidelity's action follows that of Columbus, Ohio-based Banc One Corp., which said on Nov. 22 it would take a $170 million securities loss in the fourth quarter.
Central fidelity' s stock fell 25 cents to $26.75 a share on the news Wednesday, and analysts scrambled to revise their 1994 earnings per-share estimates.
Dean Witter's Anthony R. Davis, who had predicted some sort of securities restructuring from Central Fidelity in a recent report, said he was now expecting the company to earn $2.35 this year, down from his previous estimate of $3.00.
Merrill Ross of Wheat First Butcher & Singer in Richmond has taken her 1994 estimate down to $2.30 from $2.95.
Central Fidelity said it would use the proceeds from the sale of $500 million of fixed-rate investments to reduce its short-term borrowings by $100 million and reinvest the balance in adjustable-rate securities.
The bank estimates this action will reduce its cumulative one-year liability-sensitivity position to approximately 11% of earning assets at yearend. It said scheduled maturities of remaining securities would further reduce the interest-sensitive gap to approximately 6% of earning assets by yearend 1995. "We think that should be adequate to reduce our exposure," said Charles W. Tysinger, Central Fidelity's chief financial officer. "You don't have to be at zero sensitivity to be revenue neutral."
But Mr. Davis, at Dean Witter, said Central Fidelity was vulnerable if the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates much more than an additional 100 basis points. He noted that Central Fidelity's net interest margin, 3.77% in the third quarter, could fall to about 3.50% by yearend.
"They're still negatively gapped. If the Fed continues to push rates higher, the margin pressure is not going away," Mr. Davis said.
Central Fidelity, which has $10 billion of assets, said it expected the securities restructuring to have "a positive effect" on its 1995 earnings.