Comerica Inc. is drawing near the end of a six-month restructuring process, and Wall Street is getting ready to scrutinize the results.
Analyst Michael Moran said he exects the $35 billion-asset company to make an announcement about cost savings in mid-January. If Comerica, which is based in Detroit, cuts 5% from its expenses, Mr. Moran said he may raise his 1997 earnings estimates by as much as 10 cents per share, to $4.60.
The Roney & Co. analyst said that if the company continues its stock buyback program, the repurchases should generate between $5 million and $10 million in additional net income next year.
In July, Comerica announced it had hired Tandon Capital Associates, a New York consulting firm with a reputation for slash-and-burn downsizing programs at major U.S. banks.
Comerica chairman Eugene A. Miller has said the program was necessary to survive in an industry rife with consolidation. His goal is to propel Comerica into the ranks of the top ten U.S. banking companies, and to maintain a return on equity of TK%.
Comerica's ROE was 18% for the first nine months of 1996.
Despite Tandon's reputation for recommending large employee cutbacks, analysts said they don't believe huge layoffs will occur at Comerica.
I view the restructuring as a "fine tuning," said Mr. Moran.
Unlike Firstar Corp. of Milwaukee, which is cutting 26% of its work force after consulting with Tandon, Comerica has been continually evaluating its businesses and operations over the past several years, analysts said.
"Comerica was going into this from a standpoint of strength," said Joseph Duwan, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. I wouldn't expect the same kind of cuts from Comerica, he added.
Mr. Duwan said that Comerica has to be mindful of the effect a vast restructuring can have on revenue generation.
"It could be risky on the revenue side," said analyst Fred Cummings of McDonald & Co. "We're going to be paying very close attention to the revenue dynamics."
Mr. Duwan said he believes Comerica has been focused on the revenue side in addition to the cost cutting. Just a year ago, rumors were rife that Comerica was about to be taken over, and some financial analysts placed the company at the top of their likely to-be-acquired lists.
But, a year later, Comerica is still independent.
Roney & Co.'s Mr. Moran said that commitment is important to Comerica's work force. "You don't want to generate too much watercooler activity," he said, "with people wondering about their futures."