Republic New York Corp., taking an unexpectedly large hit from the global financial crisis, reported a third-quarter loss of $92.7 million, down from a profit of $112.3 million a year earlier.
The company predicted in August that it would break even for the quarter after absorbing $110 million in losses on Russian securities trading. But those losses actually hit $190.7 million.
Republic, with $50.4 billion of assets, said it took some smaller losses from unauthorized trading and from a currency shipment aboard the Swiss Air jetliner that crashed off Canada.
"It's like the plagues," said Marni Pont O'Doherty, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "They've got everything but toads and leeches."
Republic said it would immediately begin a restructuring program. But investors pounded Republic's stock anyway, driving it down 7% for the day, to $42.375.
Elsewhere, the newly formed Citigroup reported a 53% drop in profits, in line with predictions it made two weeks ago. Fleet Financial Group, meanwhile, reported a 14% jump, to $401 million. And Washington Mutual, the nation's largest thrift, also reported strong earnings, but its shares were hit by heavy profit taking. (See story on page 28.)
Republic New York Corp.
Republic became the first major banking company to report a net loss for the quarter as a result of the global turmoil. The loss amounted to 96 cents a share; analysts had expected a profit of 5 cents a share, according to First Call Corp.
In a conference call Wednesday, chairman and chief executive officer Walter H. Weiner said Republic would restructure to emphasize high-growth private banking and retail banking.
The company would scale back, consolidate, or exit certain other businesses that did not make at least a 15% return on equity, he said.
Analysts said it was likely the bank would shut down many of its proprietary trading operations. A restructuring charge in the fourth quarter is possible but has not yet been quantified, Mr. Weiner said.
Republic's net chargeoffs totaled $55.2 million, including $50.7 million related to Russia. Its remaining Russian exposure was $59.7 million.
In addition, Republic lost $11.2 million in unauthorized transactions by one of its traders overseas and $2.5 million in currency that was shipped on the Swiss Air flight that crashed.
Fee-generating businesses lost $99.8 million, largely because of a $200 million loss in securities sales. But fees from private banking and retail services rose 7.5%, to $15.6 million.
The restructuring could lead to layoffs and the closing of offices, analysts said. Mr. Weiner declined to be more specific on those plans. "It would be pretty hard to say," he said. "Locations are being reviewed to see if they can be combined, and some aren't going to make it."
Mr. Weiner said the company would also move to reduce its Brazilian bond holdings, valued at $800 million. Right now that investment brings in $60 million, or 3% of the bank's revenues.
"We want to have what we regard as acceptable levels of risk," he said. This quarter the company "did not meet that criteria."