JPMorgan Chase & Co.
and Wells Fargo & Co.
— along with PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
and BlackRock Inc.
— report earnings Friday as Wall Street’s fixation on a recession continues to run deep. And following the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank
and Silvergate Bank
along with efforts to seal up cracks in First Republic Bank
and Credit Suisse Group AG
Wall Street is likely to review quarterly numbers from the industry with a magnifying glass.
“Every income statement line item is in flux and the degree of confidence in our forecast is lower as the probability of a sharper slowdown increases,” Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck said in a note on Wednesday.
For more: Banks on the line for deposit flows and margin pressure as they reel from banking crisis
She said that the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last month would trigger an “accelerated bid” for customers’ money, potentially weighing on net interest margins, a profitability gauge measuring what banks make on interest from loans and what they pay out to depositors. Tighter lending standards, she said, would drive up net charge-offs — a measure of debt unlikely to be repaid — as borrowers run into more trouble obtaining or refinancing loans.
Phil Orlando, chief investment strategist at Federated Hermes, said in an interview that tighter lending standards could constrain lending volume. He also said that banks were likely to set aside more money to cover loans that go bad, as managers grow more conservative and try to gauge what exposure they have to different types of borrowers.
“To a significant degree, they have to say, what percentage of our companies are tech companies? What percentage are financial companies? Do we think that this starts to dribble into the auto industry?” he said. “Every bank is going to be different in terms of what their portfolio of business looks like.”
He also said that last month’s bank failures could spur more customers to open up multiple accounts at different banks, following bigger concerns about what would happen to the money in a bank account that exceeded the $250,000 limit covered by the FDIC. But as the recent banking disturbances trigger Lehman flashbacks, he said that the recent banking failures were the result of poor management and insufficient risk controls specific to those financial firms.
“COVID was something that affected everyone, universally, not just the banking companies but the entire economy, the entire stock market,” he said. “You go back to the global financial crisis in the ’07-’09 period, that’s something that really affected all of the financial service companies. I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with here.”
Also read: Banking sector’s growing political might could blunt reform in wake of SVB failure, experts warn
Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has said that Trump-era banking deregulation didn’t cause those bank failures. But in his annual letter to shareholders last week, he also said that the current turmoil in the bank system is not over. However, he also said that the collapse or near-collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and its peers “are nothing like what occurred during the 2008 global financial crisis.”
“Regarding the current disruption in the U.S. banking system, most of the risks were hiding in plain sight,” Dimon said. “Interest rate exposure, the fair value of held-to-maturity (HTM) portfolios and the amount of SVB’s uninsured deposits were always known — both to regulators and the marketplace.”
“The unknown risk was that SVB’s over 35,000 corporate clients – and activity within them – were controlled by a small number of venture capital companies and moved their deposits in lockstep,” Dimon continued. “It is unlikely that any recent change in regulatory requirements would have made a difference in what followed.”
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates, along with a broader pullback in digital demand following the first two years of the pandemic, stanched the flow of tech-industry funding into Silicon Valley bank and caused the value of its bond investments to fall.
Don’t miss: An earnings recession seems inevitable, but it might not last long
But the impact of those higher interest rates — an effort to slow the economy and, by extension, bring inflation down — will be felt elsewhere. First-quarter earnings are expected to decline 6.8% for S&P 500 index components overall, according to FactSet. That would be the first decline since the second quarter of 2020, when the pandemic had just begun to send the economy into a tailspin.
“In a word, earnings for the first quarter are going to be poor,” Orlando said.
This week in earnings
For the week ahead, 11 S&P 500
components, and two from the Dow Jones Industrial Average
will report first-quarter results. Outside of the banks, health-insurance giant UnitedHealth Group
reports during the week. Online fashion marketplace Rent the Runway Inc.
will also report.
The call to put on your calendar
Delta Air Lines Inc.: Delta
reports first-quarter results on Thursday, amid bigger questions about when, if ever, higher prices — including for airfares — might turn off travelers. The carrier last month stuck with its outlook for big first-quarter sales gains when compared with prepandemic levels. “If anyone’s looking for weakness, don’t look at Delta”, Chief Executive Ed Bastian said at a conference last month.
But rival United Airlines Holdings Inc.
has told investors to prepare for a surprise loss, even though it also reported a 15% jump in international bookings in March. And after Southwest Airlines Co.’s
flight-cancellation mayhem last year brought more attention to technology issues and airline understaffing, concerns have grown over whether the industry has enough air-traffic controllers, prompting a reduction in some flights.
For more: Air-traffic controller shortages could result in fewer flights this summer
But limitations within those airlines’ flight networks to handle consumer demand can push fares higher. And Morgan Stanley said that strong balance sheets, passengers’ willingness to still pay up — albeit in a concentrated industry with a handful of options — and “muscle memory” from being gutted by the pandemic, could make airlines “defensive safe-havens,” to some degree, for investors.
“It is hard to argue against the airlines soaring above the macro storm underneath them (at least in the short term),” the analysts wrote in a research note last week.
The numbers to watch
Grocery-store margins: Albertsons Cos.
— the grocery chain whose merger deal with Kroger Inc.
has raised concerns about food prices and accessibility — reports results on Tuesday. Higher food prices have helped fatten grocery stores’ profits, even as consumers struggle to keep up. But Costco Wholesale Corp.
in reporting March same-store sales results, noted that “year-over-year inflation for food and sundries and fresh foods were both down from February.” The results from Albertsons could offer clues on whether shoppers might be getting a break from steep price increases.
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