There's a new player on the bank analysis block. It is ING Barings LLC, which has just hired Andrew B. Collins from UBS Securities.
Mr. Collins made his debut with guns roaring. He gave a "strong buy" to Chase Manhattan Corp. and a "buy" to Bank of New York, and put "holds" on Bank of America Corp., Fleet Financial Group and J.P. Morgan & Co.
Chase is his favorite by far. He expects its shares to reach $106 within a year, up from Wednesday's close of $78.4375.
Mr. Collins predicts that Chase will increase its earnings in a number of businesses, with especially good prospects for the global bank. He says the global bank will produce 64% of Chase's total cash earnings this year. National consumer activities will come in second, with a 26% share, and global services, third, with 10%. Within the global bank, trading will be the largest single contributor providing 31% of its earnings.
Like many other analysts, Mr.Collins said Chase might consider the acquisition of a large investment bank, naming Merrill Lynch & Co. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co.
"Such a deal would be well received, lifting a cloud of uncertainty over the stock," he said.
Mr. Collins said he prefers banks with growing fee income and those that deemphasize branches. "I don't like the traditional banking model."
Discussing Bank of New York, Mr. Collins said he expects its processing and trust lines of business to grow to roughly 54% of total earnings this year, from 31% in 1995. He said the company has become far more focused over the last few years.
Corporate banking will generate 22% of earnings, financial markets 13%, and retail 11%, Mr. Collins said.
Looking at Bank of America Corp., Mr. Collins said the merger of the old BankAmerica Corp. with NationsBank Corp. has been"plagued with systems integration snafus, morale problems, and lack of managerial expertise in the global corporate banking arena."
Bank of America "is a retail-driven franchise with an estimated 49% of its 1999 earnings coming from its consumer franchise and an additional 11% from middle-market banking." Corporate and investment banking could contribute an additional 26%, Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Collins describes himself as being "very bullish" about Fleet, which is merging with BankBoston Corp. Nonetheless, he is "somewhat cautious" about the company's ability to combine "nine separate businesses into a cohesive, synergistic whole" within 12 months of the merger's closing.
He said J.P. Morgan's "earnings remain highly volatile and returns are subpar," though he noted that Morgan "has steadily rebuilt itself into a full-service wholesale financial services provider.
"Ultimately it makes sense for J.P. Morgan to merge with a large European bank or U.S. investment banking franchise," Mr. Collins said . Such a move would "leverage the company's good name and do the right thing for shareholders."
Carla D'Arista of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. also speaks highly of Chase. The company "continues to pare the wholesale loan portfolio and restructure the private bank, where global reorganization is offsetting double-digit revenue growth in the United States," Ms. D'Arista said. Once this restructuring is completed, the bank will be poised for higher earnings, she said.
Ms. D'Arista said Chase generated $2 billion of free cash flow in the first half, equal to the total for all of 1998.
For the day, the Standard & Poor's bank index declined 1.7% and the Nasdaq bank index 0.72%. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.02%.
Most large banks fell in late-afternoon trading, after being up modestly earlier in the day.