Small Banking Revisited

Periodically I encounter an article that hits at the core of one of my strategies.  As many of  you know, I’m currently a little overweight financials with an emphasis on regional banks.  This was not always the case as I (fortunately) exited the sector in late 2007  reentering only in early 2013.  My five year pause was bookended by what Richard J. Parsons refers to as the Great Panic of 2008-2009.  His article, Finding Alpha In Reliable Dividend Banks(14 June 2017) struck a chord with me and illustrated some of the style I came to embrace for a time. Though I’m not selling my banks, other than special situations, I’m currently not a buyer either.  If you are a bank investor (or considering being one) I’d recommend reading his article.

His article highlights 30 regionals that actually raised dividends during the Panic.  By comparison, my hypothesis was segmented into three ‘buckets’ which were:
1.Good dividend payers
2.Stock dividend payers
3.Acquisition candidates

Although he includes some stock payers (CMBH, AROW, SBSI, and FLIC (roundups on splits)) this is not his article’s focus.  I’ve written on these before so I’ll exclude them.

His article also points out that only one of the original 30 was acquired which is a slight disappointment when one of my goals is to obtain a merger premium.  Several on his list were acquirers which kind of proves my rationale to expand the universe to include potential acquisition targets in my bank holdings a couple of years ago.

Leaving us with his list.  One notable point is his geographic analysis.  “Certain states are more likely to be home to these reliable dividend banks: Indiana, Texas, California, Kentucky, Missouri, and upper state New York.”  This melds with my findings though I attributed this to state regulatory agencies as certain states had disproportionate numbers of bank failures.  Therefore I excluded western (California) and southern US banks.  To his mix, I found Pennsylvania to be a viable candidate as well.  This difference could be that mutual conversions (notably preeminent in PA, NY, NJ, VA and MA) were identified as likely targets by my study.

Another note on his analysis, “…a few critical factors influence long-term success in banking: hands-on expert management…”  In fact he elaborates a little on this in the comment stream.  A tidbit is both Missouri banks on his list were established by the Kemper family.

So the actual question is how do my portfolio holdings stack up against his list?  Half of the thirty are owned.  Of the nine owned by Richard, seven are owned (one obtained via a merger).  One being in California was excluded by geographic screening.  I’m not sure offhand though, why I excluded CBU out of New York.  My primary takeaway from his article was a validation of my strategy and I need to further investigate a few.

His complete list follows:

Access National ANCX 1.4B VA
Arrow Financial Corp. AROW 2.7B NY
Auburn National Bancorp AUBN .8B AL
BancFirst Corp.   BANF 7.2B OK
Bar Harbor Bankshares  BHB 3.4B ME
Bank of Marin Bancorp BMRC 2.0B CA
Bryn Mawr Bank Corp. BMTC 3.3B PA
Bank of Oklahoma   BOKF 32.6B OK
Commerce Bancshares   CBSH 25.3B MO
Community Bank System CBU 8.9B NY
Cullen/Frost Bankers CFR 30.5B TX
Community Trust Bancorp CTBI 4.0B KY
First Capital  FCAP .8B IN
First of Long Island Corp.  FLIC 3.6B NY
Farmers & Merchants Bancorp  FMCB 3.0B CA
Horizon Bancorp   HBNC 3.2B IN
National Bankshares NKSH 1.2B VA
Norwood Financial Corp.  NWFL 1.1B PA
Bank of the Ozarks OZRK 19.2B AR
Prosperity Bancshares  PB 22.5B TX
People’s United Financial, Inc.   PBCT 40.2B CT
Stock Yards Bancorp  SYBT 3.0B KY
Tompkins Financial Corp.  TMP 6.3B NY
United Bankshares UBSI 14.8B WV
UMB Financial Corp.  UMBF 20.6B MO
Westamerica   WABC 5.4B CA
Washington Trust  WASH 4.4B RI
First Source  SRCE 5.5B IN
First Financial THFF 3.0B IN
Southside Bancshares SBSI 5.7B TX
Bold-owned by Richard, Italics-owned by me

Jan 2017 Update

January saw DOW 20,000 being attained before dropping under once again.  The post inauguration euphoria  beat a hasty retreat in the wake of record protests, a wave of executive orders and a record number of lawsuits filed against a president in his first eleven days.  In finance terms, this uncertainty translated into concerns about the the ability or  time required to effect change through the legislative process – in particular tax reform.  This month The S&P gained 1.79%.  while my portfolio recorded a gain of 3.51% largely due to the final significant merger completing.  After a great 2016, I’m making some changes in my 2017 strategy that will (hopefully) accelerate performance in 2018.  Meanwhile I’ll be content with a slight win versus the S&P this year.

Headlines impacting my portfolio:

  • 1/5 – WMT ends V ban in Canada
  • 1/9 – SBUX discontinues Evenings concept
  • 1/10 – NWBI divests MD assets to SHBI
  • 1/13 – LSBG/BHB merger completes
  • 1/17 – ADP acquires Marcus Buckingham Co.
  • 1/20 – IRM acquires Kane Office Archives LLC through BK court
  • 1/23 – AMC acquires Nordic Cinema
  • 1/24 – Executive order moving Keystone (TRP) forward signed
  • 1/25 – DOW 20,000
  • 1/25 – BLK moves 1T$ from STT to JPM
  • 1/26 – JNJ to acquire ALIOY then spin R&D unit to ALIOY shareowners
  • 1/30 – GDOT buys UniRush (RushCard)
  • 1/31 – BX prices INVH IPO

Blog Updates:

posts under consideration for Feb are Methods to my Madness Pt 3 update, Anti-Trump strategy, My Coca-Cola strategy and The Commonality Between Trump and Me

Portfolio Updates:

  • Added to CLX
  • New position – CCLAY
  • New position – BHB (LSBG merger)
  • New position – SWRAY

Dividends:

  • January delivered an increase of 15.46% over January 2016.  This requires normalization due to PEP and WRE paying in January rather than December, KO paying in December rather than January and BUSE paying in February.  On a normalized basis, this represents a Y/Y increase of 3.1% which is attributable to dividend increases (Y/Y).  This means my October purchases from merger proceeds were successful in maintaining my Jan,Apr,Jul,Oct income stream.
  • January had a 3.0% increase over the prior quarter.
  • Declared dividend increases averaged 7.44% with 19.65% of my portfolio delivering at least one raise (1 cut – YUM).
  • Dividends received were 9.2% of total 2016 dividends and if the current run rate is maintained would exceed this total around October 15th.

Spinoffs:

The MET spin (Brighthouse Financial – BHF) remains pending.

Mergers:

Agrium/POT, JNS/HGG.L remain pending

Another Merger – LSBG

Yesterday brought the announcement that Lake Sunapee Bank Group (LSBG) agreed to be acquired by Bar Harbor Bankshares (BHB).  This will be an all stock transaction valued at approximately $17.00 per LSBG share and represents a nearly 20% premium t0 yesterday’s close.  The terms:

  • .497 shares of BHB for each LSBG share.

I’ve had my eye on BHB for a little while but never pulled the trigger.  Perhaps the premium received will allay any nagging issues.

bhb

Lake Sunapee, being one of my poster children for my bank merger thesis, occupied a Satellite slot (1.5% dividends generated) in my portfolio.  Since the dividend date will change with the merger, I’ve decided to elevate Toronto-Dominion Bank to replace LSBG since they have the same payment date.