The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s proposed cut in U.S. banks' deposit premiums would boost the industry's earnings by at least 6% annually, analysts said.
Banks with a strong retail focus would receive the strongest boost. Barnett Banks Inc.'s pretax income would jump 8.1%, and First Fidelity Bancorp would enjoy a 7.9% pretax income gain, according to Standard & Poor's Corp.
By contrast, wholesale-funded banks, and those with diversified operations, will not register as great a benefit.
The proposal to cut the deposit premium rate by 83% for most banks had a negligible effect on bank stocks, which hardly moved in response to the news.
"The financial impact of this reduction in deposit insurance is underestimated by many investors," said Michael Mayo, an analyst with Lehman Brothers Inc.
"There is a lot of pessimism about bank earnings," he added. "But what the premium cut does is, even those pessimistic investors may begin to realize that this provides a 6% earnings cushion which they might not otherwise have been expecting."
The Fed rate hike and an increase in loan-loss provisions from today's abnormally low levels have already been factored into most earnings expectations, he said.
An FDIC premium cut was not factored in, he said. Congressional Republican efforts to impose a moratorium on regulations, and concerns with banks' exposure to Mexico and to derivatives left many observers questioning whether the cut would come, he said.
The cut was double what was previously expected, he added.
The deposit rate is currently 23 cents per $100 of deposits, but the FDIC said it would cut that to 4 cents for most banks, probably by the end of the year.
By law, the FDIC may cut rates if the bank insurance fund holds $1.25 for every $100 of insured deposits. The fund is expected to reach that level between May and July of this year.
The FDIC and the industry predicted the move would save banks $5 billion annually.
However, Standard & Poor's said the cut in deposit premiums would be at least partially offset by other factors.
"While the initial impact of the FDIC cut will bolster industrywide profitability . . . some of the premium reduction eventually will be used by banks to increase rates paid to depositors in response to general competitive pressures," the ratings agency said.
Continued margin contraction and flat fee-revenue growth will pressure industry profitability, S&P said.
But Mr. Mayo countered again that these problems had already been taken into account in earnings estimates, and that the deposit premium cuts had not.
"The FDIC cut is very, very positive for the industry across the board," said David Sloan, a fund manager with Sife Trust Fund. "Hopefully, with all the analysts lowering earnings for 1995, they will go back and look at the impact of the FDIC premium cuts and adjust earnings."
Money-center banks will not be as advantaged, however, because of their wholesale operations. Other wholesale-oriented banks like NBD Bancorp, PNC Bank Corp., and Fleet Financial Group also will not enjoy much of an earnings boost.
Diversified companies like Bank of New York Co. and Norwest Corp. will not receive as great a boost as retail institutions.