Zions Bancorporation and Regions Financial Corp. were the biggest winners among bank stocks Wednesday after the Federal Reserve gave the two regional companies the go-ahead to finally repay the the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
In an otherwise mixed day on Wall Street for banks, Zions' shares soared 10.5%, to close at $21.58, while Regions' shares rose 6.9%, to close at $6.17. Both companies' shares were boosted by news that they had passed the Fed's stress tests and had won approval to redeem preferred shares they issued to the Treasury Department at the height of the financial crisis.
Zions, of Salt Lake City, said it would repay its $1.4 billion in Tarp funds in two installments by the end of this year and would do so without issuing new shares of preferred or common stock. Regions plans to repay its $3.5 billion in Tarp funds with the proceeds from the sale of its Morgan Keegan & Co. investment banking unit and an upcoming $900 million stock sale.
The day's biggest decliner among bank holding companies was MetLife Inc., one of four stress-tested banks told it would need to raise additional capital in the event of a drastic economic downturn. In extremely heavy trading, MetLife's shares fell 5.8%, to close at $37.16. Citigroup Inc. and SunTrust Banks Inc. also failed their stress tests, and along with MetLife, they released statements Wednesday questioning the Fed's methodology. Citi's shares fell 3.4%, to $35.20, but SunTrust's shares rose 4.6%, to $23.61. (Ally, the fourth company that failed the stress test, is not publicly traded.) Other stress-tested banks that fared well Wednesday were Bank of America Corp. (up 4%), American Express Co. (up 3.5%), KeyCorp (up 2.8%) and Capital One Financial Corp. (up 2.7%.)
Several companies, including Key, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and BB&T Corp. said that they intend to repurchase large blocks of stock and would considering hiking dividends now that the stress tests have been completed. JPMorgan Chase's shares rose 0.5%, while BB&T's and Wells Fargo's shares were relatively flat. Zions was among 11 second-tier banking companies that were also stress-tested but whose results were not made public by the Fed. Others included Huntington Bancshares Inc., Comerica Inc. and M&T Bank Corp. Huntington's shares climbed 2.5% and Comerica's rose 1% in response to announcements that they planned to buy back stock, but M&T's shares fell slightly after the company said it passed its stress test but would need to apply for Fed approval if it wishes to raise its dividend, repurchase stock or repay Tarp.