First Republic falls 25% as regional bank stocks continue to sink
Traders gather at the post where First Republic Bank as the stock is halted from being traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, March 15, 2023.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Shares of First Republic and several other regional banks were under pressure again on Thursday, as the Swiss National Bank’s move to shore up Credit Suisse did little to calm fears about more mid-sized bank failures in the U.S.
First Republic fell more than 25% in premarket trading. PacWest dropped more 15%, and Western Alliance fell about 9%.
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last Friday has left investors scrambling to identify other regional banks that have similar balance sheet issues, namely a high rate of uninsured deposits and bonds or loans with a long time to maturity.
First Republic had the third highest rate of uninsured deposits among U.S. banks, behind SVB and Signature Bank, which was closed by regulators over the weekend, according to a note from Raymond James. First Republic’s stock was down nearly 75% in March as of Wednesday’s close, and the bank’s debt has been downgraded by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.
First Republic’s stock has been under pressure since the collapse of SVB.
Thursday’s drop for First Republic came even as Bloomberg News reported that the bank was weighing its options to stabilize itself, including a potential sale. But a sale under pressure may not end up being a great deal for shareholders, according to KBW analyst Christopher McGratty.
“Following the sharp decline in the stock post SIVB failure (deposit outflows/liquidity concerns), FRC is admittedly in a challenging position. Any potential sale would likely be a tough outcome for existing shareholders,” McGratty said in a note to clients.
The struggles for regional bank stocks has continued despite the announcement from U.S. regulators over the weekend of additional support. That included a new program from the Federal Reserve that allowed banks to swap some assets for cash without having to realize the mark-to-market losses caused by higher interest rates. The SPDR S&P Regional Bank ETF (KRE) has dropped more than 11% this week.
The SPDR S&P Regional Bank ETF (KRE) was down another 2.6% in premarket trading Thursday.
In addition to the fears of more bank failures, the potential for increased regulation and smaller deposit bases for mid-sized banks could also be hurting the stocks as investors asses the future earnings power of the regionals.
The banking system got another shock on Wednesday, when Credit Suisse‘s Swiss-traded shares fell more than 20% amid concerns that the bank’s “material weakness” in its financial reporting could lead to it needing to raise more capital. However, the Swiss National Bank struck a deal with Credit Suisse to allow the national bank to borrow up to roughly $54 billion.
But while Credit Suisse’s struggles could have ripple effects throughout the global banking system, the Swiss bank’s problems appear to be unrelated to the U.S. regional banks.
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