Many third-quarter earnings reports released by banks and thrifts over the next few weeks will include glaring charges that in some cases could exceed operating profits.
The charges are related to one-time assessments to replenish the Savings Association Insurance Fund.
Excluding the charges, which most analysts said they would not view as a negative, average earnings per share for money-center banks are expected to be 8.8% higher than a year earlier, said Charles Hill, director of research for First Call.
The projected consensus gain for regional banking companies is 6.3%, Mr. Hill said.
SunTrust Banks Inc. of Atlanta weighed in with the first major banking report Tuesday: an 8% increase in net income, to $155.6 million. (See page 6.)
Operating income for thrifts is expected to rise 18.2% over the third quarter of 1995, Mr. Hill said.
"Banks are underperforming the financial sector, and S&Ls are outperforming, but they're all overperforming compared to the market," Mr. Hill said, noting the Standard & Poor's 500 is only up 5.4%.
In general, earnings growth for the year is slower than a year ago, Mr. Hill said. One reason, according to Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. analyst Joseph Duwan, is sluggish loan growth.
"We are sensing a little tougher environment in terms of loan growth," Mr. Duwan said. "But my sense is the trend toward fee growth will continue."
Mr. Duwan said credit quality continues to be an issue, and he will be keeping tabs on large credit card issuers such as Banc One Corp. and First Chicago NBD Corp. Both had higher loan chargeoffs in the second quarter.
The thrift fund assessments promise to have a more conspicuous impact on earnings.
Thrifts and many banks that grew through the acquisition of thrift deposits are expected to record charges ranging from 25 cents to $1.25 per share. Among those most dramatically affected is Sovereign Bancorp. of Wyomissing, Pa., which will have its approximately $17 million in income wiped away by an anticipated $17 million insurance fund assessment.
TCF Financial Corp., Minneapolis, expects a $22 million after-tax charge to wipe away much of its quarterly earnings, but company officials predict they'll save about the same amount by paying lower deposit premiums over the next three years.
H.F. Ahmanson & Co. of Irwindale, Calif., the largest thrift holding company, is expected to record the biggest charge for the quarter - $144 million, or about $1.25 per share, said Smith Barney analyst Thomas O'Donnell.
Despite the anticipated charges, thrift stocks are trading well, said Mr. O'Donnell. He believes the market is looking beyond the quarter and considers the rescue of the Savings Association Insurance Fund a positive.
Mr. O'Donnell said the fund fix, combined with improved thrift management and takeover speculation, has boosted savings institution shares. Moreover, the news of the special assessments for the savings association fund means thrifts will pay lower premiums in 1997, which would positively affect earnings.
But it's not just thrift earnings that will feel the pressure this quarter. Any banks holding former savings institution deposits as a result of acquisitions must also pay into the fund. BankAmerica Corp., Citicorp, and First Union Corp. are among those that will take a hit.
Keefe Bruyette estimated the results would be a 13 cents per share loss at BankAmerica and a 9-cent loss at Citcorp.
A spokeswoman for First Union said the company is expecting an after-tax charge of $86 million, or 31 cents a share.
For small to midsize regional banks that have been active acquirers, the effect is substantial. First of America Bank Corp. of Kalamazoo, Mich., will take a $23 million charge, or 24 cents a share, in the third quarter. Spokesman Tony Thompson said the charge will be canceled out by an extraordinary gain in the fourth quarter from the sale of 20 branches in Michigan and Illinois.
Richmond, Va.-based Crestar Financial Corp. said about 45% of its deposit base is insured by the thrift fund. Crestar anticipates a $22 million charge in the third quarter, or 25 cents to 30 cents per share.
Most banks are being forthright with their announcements, not wanting to surprise a market that has treated the sector's stocks positively in recent weeks.