Regional bank companies continued to report robust second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, but investors were not impressed.
Five companies reported double- or triple-digit growth in net income over the second quarter of 1992, but all but one saw their stocks lose ground on a day that the Dow Jones industrial average rose strongly.
The American Banker index, a weighted average of 225 banks, fell 1.29% on Wednesday while the Dow climbed 0.77%, or 27.11 points.
Analysts said investors were repeating a pattern begun after first-quarter results were reported of buying bank stocks on expectations of strong earnings and then dumping them when the results came in. They said the selling showed a lack of confidence in banks' ability to sustain earnings at a time when revenues continued weak.
"You can't live off declining loan-loss provisions forever," said George Salem, an analyst at Prudential-Bache Securities. "I think the investor wants to see loan growth."
Joel B. Alvord, the chairman and chief executive of Shawmut National Corp., conceded that investors need more evidence of health. "Loan demand is not robust," he said. "One of the challenges [for banks] will be on the revenue side."
Margins Under Pressure
Sandra J. Flannigan, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co., noted as well that interest margins are under pressure. About half the banks she covers reported larger-than-expected decreases in the margin, she said. "We're seeing it even though loans are picking up," she said. "You have to be worried about the Spread on some of the loans being booked."
PNC BANK CORP.
The Pittsburgh-based bank company, the nation's 11th largest, said second-quarter earnings climbed 32.5% to $169.1 million, without the heavy reliance of recent quarters on special gains.
PNC posted a modest $6.6 million of gains from sales of debt securities, down from $105 million in the first quarter and $47 million a year ago.
It attributed the strong showing to shrinking credit costs and reduced expenses. The company's loss provision fell 12.4% from $61.4 million in the first quarter, while nonperforming assets were cut another $65 million to $675 million, or 2.63% of gross loans.
PNC's noninterest expenses, primarily from salaries and occupancy costs, dropped to $345 million from $387 million in the first quarter.
But PNC's net interest margin fell 18 basis points since the first quarter to 3.96% because of lower loan fees and prepayments of mortgage-backed securities. And its outstanding loans grew a scant 1.22% during the quarter, despite an acquisition-fueled rise in assets of 5.27%.
The bank's stock fell $1.875 to $30 a share in late trading Wednesday afternoon.
FIRST CHICAGO CORP.
Gains in credit card revenue and trading sustained profits at the nation's 13th-largest bank company. Quarterly earnings spiraled to $168.5 million from $34.5 million one year earlier.
First Chicago's stock price rose 25 cents to $42.75 a share in late trading Wednesday.
The company's burgeoning credit card portfolio yielded $164.2 million of fee revenue, up 12% from the first quarter and 41% from the year-ago period. Trading gains of $91.6 million were up 68% from the first quarter and 148% from a year ago.
Venture capital gains of $19 million after-tax contributed strongly to profits, but were down from $57 million in the first quarter.
Chicago Corp. analyst Kenneth Puglisi cautioned that trading and venture capital gains probably will trend downward later this year.
But Robert Albertson, who follows the company for Goidman, Sachs & Co. was upbeat. "The results are not fully sustainable because of the special gains. but First Chicago's core businesses still are ahead of where we thought," he said.
Indicating that it is still battling real estate problems, First Chicago recorded a $47 million increase in problem commercial realty loans in the second quarter despite completing the previously announced sale of $500 million of problem assets to GE Capital Corp. Nonperforming assets at the company grew 10% to $415 million.
The North Carolina company earned $123.1 million in the second quarter, largely on the strength of improved noninterest income, tight expense controls, and fewer credit problems.
Earnings of 70 cents a share were in line with analyst consensus estimates, as compiled by First Call. But Wachovia's shares fell 87.5 cents to $34.125 a share in late afternoon trading.
Strong gains in trust fees, service charges, and bond trading profits helped total fee income rise 16% to $149.8 million from $129.7 million one year earlier.
Wachovia's nonperforming assets fell 18% to $227 million from $275 million in the first quarter. Chief financial officer Robert S. McCoy Jr. attributed this to "some good work in selling foreclosed properties." The company's loan-loss provision of $26.1 million rose slightly from $25.1 million in the first quarter, but was 7% below the year-ago quarter. Chargeoffs, reflecting losses from the bank's aggressive marketing of credit cards, rose $3.2 million from the first quarter to $17.2 million. But card growth, combined with a boost in consumer installment lending, led to a 9.5% increase in loans to $21.7 billion from a year ago.
"We are booking a very large number of loans, but we've also had very large paydowns," Mr. McCoy cautioned. "Large companies have access to alternative credit markets and are using the proceeds to pay down bank debt. It takcs booking a lot of loans to offset that."
SHAWMUT NATIONAL CORP.
New England's third-largest bank company earned $56.3 million in the second quarter - more than six times its year-earlier gain. A dramatic decline in nonperforming assets and a jump in net interest income caused the gain.
"Core carnings will continue to be very strong," Mr. Alvord, the company's chairman, said in an interview. "Credit quality [problems] are pretty much a thing of the past, and we're in the midst of a cost management program that should improve our operating ratios."
Shawmut's stock, which was down as much as $1.125 Wednesday afternoon, bounced back to close down 25 cents at $23.25 a share.
Shawmut - which completed two bulk sales of real estate during the quarter - said its nonperforming assets fell 34% in the quarter to $513.1 million.
"They still have a lot of foreclosed real estate," said Lawrence Cohn, an analyst at Paine-Webber Inc. "But that will continue to go down and help their earnings."
Shawmut reaped a 9-basispoint gain in its net interest margin during the quarter to 4.10%, reflecting its across-the-board lowering of deposit rates in March by 20 to 50 basis points. Bank officials and analysts said the move has not led depositors to withdraw funds.
"They've had lower pricing for four months now, with no negative impact." said Michael Mayo, an analyst at UBS Securities who raised his 1993 estimate for Shawmut to $2 a share from $1.85 on Wednesday.
FIRST OF AMERICA
The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based company earned $59.6 million in the second quarter, up 1.71% from the first period and more than double the year-ago results. Its return to investors translated into a strong 1.17% on average assets and 17.16% on average equity.
But the bank's net interest margin of 4.92% was down 4 basis points from the first quarter.
First of America Bank Corp.'s loss provision of $20 million inched down from $23.8 million in the first quarter. The bank finished the second quarter with $173.6 million of problem assets, or a slender 1.25% of gross loans.
Commercial loan demand in Michigan remains weak, said Daniel R. Smith, First of America's chairman and chief executive. But he noted that consumer loans are growing.
The company's stock lost 12.5 cents to $38 a share in late trading Wednesday.
FIRST BANK SYSTEM INC.
A big charge related to the company's acquisition of Colorado Nation Banchares during the quarter skewed results at the Minneapolis-based company. First Bank earned $33.5 million, down 42.74% from the second quarter of 1992.
The company booked a pretax charge of $72.2 million for the purchase of the Denver bank in May.
However, First Bank reported improved fundamentals. Absent the charge. it would have earned $83.5 million. for a return on assets of 1.32% - up from 1.25% in the first quarter and 1% one year ago. Prior results were restated to reflect the pooling acquisitions of two western banks.
The company's problem assets fell by $46 million during the sccond quarter to $328.5 million. or 1.82% of gross loans.
Surges in residential mortgages and commercial credits sparked a 3.82% expansion of First Bank's net loans during the second quarter to $16.84 billion.
First Bank's shares lost $ 1.125 to $29.75 in late trading.
The Columbus, Ohio-based company reported net income of $53.2 million for the second quarter, an increase of 48.8% from $35.7 million in the same period last year.
Huntington matched its peak profitability figures of the first quarter, earning $53.2 million for an ROA of 1.4% and an ROE of 19.87%.
The company's second-quarter net interest margin of 5.34% fell from 5.47% in the first quarter, while its loss provision of $24.4 million inched up from $22.3 million in the first quarter.
But Huntington chairman and chief executive Frank Wobst said in a prepared statement that loan growth and sharply increased mortgage origination fees sustained profitability.
SIGNET BANKING CORP.
The Richmond-based company, which has $12 billion of assets, reported a 51% secondquarter gain of $40.4 million.
Signet's net interest income rose 22% to $129.8 million, primarily because of robust growth in credit card loans. Credit card servicing income helped boost noninterest income by 16% to $81.2 million from 1992's second quarter.
But shares of Signet tumbled $3.75 in trading Wednesday as analysts expressed concern about a 32-basis-point drop in the net interest margin to 5.03% during the quarter.
"The margin contraction was very much unexpected on Wall Street, and anytime you have a surprise of that magnitude there is a tendency to think the worst," said Ms. Flannigan, the Merrill Lynch analyst.
Anthony Davis, who follows Signet for Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., said the company's chief problem was the maturation of about $450 million of interest rate swaps that had been insulating it from high funding costs on $2.5 billion of certificates of deposit. Signet has been using CDs to fund its aggressive credit card marketing program.
But he and some other analysts said investors were overreacting to the margin squeeze.
Another Richmond-based company, Central Fidelity Banks Inc., said Wednesday it earned $26.3 million in the second quarter, up 33% from the year-ago period. Central Fidelity, which has $9.1 billion in assets, reported growth in both interest and noninterest income.
First Alabama Bancshares Inc., Birmingham, earned $27.9 million, up 21% from $23.1 million 12 months earlier. First Alabama, which has $8 billion in assets, cited "good loan growth" as contributing to its results.
U.S. Trust Corp. in New York reported a 22% gain over the previous year's second quarter to $9.8 million, or 99 cents a share. Net interest income rose 10% to $28.8 million from a year ago while fiduciary and other fees rose 11% to $65 million.
Average loans increased nearly 15% to $137 million - a jump the bank attributed entirely to its private banking business. It said residential real estate mortgages accounted for more than 75% of the gains,
Nonperforming assets fell during the quarter, but expenses rose 7.6% to $76.5 million compared with a year ago. Salaries and employce benefit expenses were up 15% to $6.2 million.
Riggs National Corp., the troubled Washington, D.C., bank, posted a second-quarter loss of $73.2 million, versus a year-earlier loss of $2 million. The company took a $61 million restructuring charge during the quarter to reorganize its operations in the United Kingdom.