Trump-Tied Banks

Headline Risk

the possibility that a news story will adversely affect a stock’s price

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/headline-risk.asp

As my readers are aware, for a variety of reasons I’ve had an affinity for the banking sector following the financial crisis. Outside the rants of a few of the current presidential contenders highlighting abuses against the ‘normal people’, this sector has been relatively subdued albeit with a major storm cloud brewing on the horizon. This formation hit my radar with the August 19th, 2018 article in the American Banker. Since then, I’ve been tracking the progress of this storm to either identify a manner to profit from the event, to see if it dissipates or if it evolves into a black swan.

This week, the storm finally arrived although I have yet to batten down the hatches. My sense of urgency to publish my findings only increased when I ran across a piece by one of our own, All About Interest, in determining a possible investment in Citizens Financial Group (CFG). My response was: Tending to err with an abundance of caution, I would dig much deeper on CFG. Their former parent had financial issues (hence the spinoff) and most recently has been the associated with Manafort loans (speculation is they are ‘Lender B’ in the Mueller report). Another bank with Manafort ties (BANC) last week cut their dividend by 53.8% – although this could be unrelated and pure coincidence. Basically pointing out a basic flaw in pure DGI screening methodology – Headline Risk.

  • CFG has had a troubled history probably due to its’ former parent, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (IPO’d in 2014, fully divested in 2015)
  • CFG was apparently “Lender B” in the Mueller Report with questionable loans to Manafort (perhaps a coincidence, they issued $300m in stock as Series D preferred in January)
  • Another bank involved in Manafort loans, BANC, announced a dividend cut of 53.8% effective July (I can’t say if there is a correlation)
  • An indictment against another Manafort lender, Federal Savings Bank (pvt) CEO Stephen Calk, was unsealed after I posted my comment (alleging his personal actions to bypass standard loan processes resulted in a $16m loss to the institution)

Certainly enough thunder to keep me away from an investment in any of these. My count indicates the Trump 8 identified by the American Banker has more than doubled and now stands at 15 – some of which I’m invested in. I’ve basically categorized them into Questionable, Cooperator, Cautionary, Litigant in addition to the three Culpables addressed previously. This is not to imply any wrongdoing – only one of the barometers I use to assess relative safety and mitigate Headline Risk.

QUESTIONABLEhave issues that are unsettling to my investment philosophy

  • Sterling National Bank (SNL) – provided financing for Cohen’s taxi-medallion business
  • Signature Bank (SBNY) – allegedly lent money to real estate developers, (including Kushner’s family) that used improper tactics to push out low rent tenants. Ivanka served on the board between 2011 and 2013.

CAUTIONARYhave potential exposure but appear to be on the right track

  • First Republic Bank (FRC) – filed a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on flow through money related to the Stormy Daniels payment and a Columbus Nova payment (Russian Billionaire company)
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RY) – McDougal and Daniels payments were allegedly made through a City National account (now RY). It appears the SARS report was filed late probably found by RY through a merger related audit. They are also cooperating on Congressional subpoenas, although a deadline was missed. (own RY)

COOPERATORbased on the Bank Secrecy Act, which allows Congress access to financial information to search for money laundering (all owned except MS)

  • Toronto-Dominion (TD) – provided documents
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) – provided documents
  • Citigroup (C) – missed subpoena deadline
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) – missed subpoena deadline
  • JPMorgan Chase (JPM) – missed subpoena deadline
  • Bank of America (BAC) – missed subpoena deadline

LITIGATORSTrump (Pres., family, companies, foundation) suing to block release of information (lost the first round this past week) (none owned)

  • Deutsche Bank (DB) – Lawsuit under appeal by Trump
  • Capital One (COF) – Lawsuit under appeal by Trump

I can kind of understand the appeals related to his personal financials except where inter-related with SARS filings. In hindsight, this is perhaps a textbook case for use of a blind trust – which as we all know was not done.

In this group, TD has about 1.48% of my portfolio and RY about 0.58%. The others I own are about 0.25% each – therefore my exposure to possible downside risk is minimal. Of the ones not owned, the only one I would currently consider is FRC on weakness. The common thread being compliance to current laws.

Do you account for Headline Risk? Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Mergers & a Buy

The first full week of 2019 was busier than usual with three mergers completed – and I still haven’t completed the year end conversion on my blog data.  I’m getting there though – although one unexpected item was the decision of three of my companies to change their names exacerbating the conversion even further.  I figured this week we would dive a little deeper into the mergers and the subsequent purchase.

Guaranty Bancorp

This one was straightforward with Independent Bank Group (IBTX) shares swapped for GBNK shares on January 1st.  On September 13th I had sold my IBTX shares at $66.15 which was prescient in that the 4th quarter selloff hit Financials particularly hard.  I now have more IBTX shares than I previously had with a cost basis of $48.67.  So my arbitrage angle worked out nicely on this one.

Green Bancorp

The next one was Veritex (VBTX) shares swapped for GNBC shares, also on January 1st.  Holding both sides to completion was a losing proposition as both were impacted with the 4th quarter swoon.  Making matters worse was the forced sale of the new shares (computer glitch on the broker side) locking in a loss on the transaction.  I still retain the old shares so my booked loss is $6.54 per share.  At least the prior one was a nice offset.

Shire Plc

As with a number of investors, I incurred a paper loss on the Baxalta spinoff from Baxter on July 1, 2015 along with the subsequent acquisition by Shire on June 3, 2016.  While this loss was offset to a degree by the cash component of the Shire merger, a loss was carried forward.  On January 8th, the Takeda Pharmaceuticals (TAK) acquisition of Shire was completed.  While the shares have arrived, the cash component is expected next week.  Citi (the ADS sponsor) has provided initial indications that this merger is a fully taxable event (cash and stock) under the new tax law.  Chalk another unintended consequence onto the Trump plan as the intent of the IRS ruling was to increase revenues, I’ll finally be able to book my remaining loss on next years’ taxes decreasing their take (if the ruling holds).

Becton Dickinson

Tom at Dividends Diversify recently performed a Deep Dive on BDX, which I won’t go into here, but I had been researching preferred issues of which they had made the cut.  In general terms preferred stock pays a fixed dividend, has less (or no) voting power, but has a higher standing in the event of bankruptcy.  Each issue is different so it is wise to review the prospectus.

This is my first foray back into preferreds since 1978.  Becton’s pfd A (BDXA) is not callable, yields 5.34% (at my purchase price) and matures May 1, 2020 when it converts to .2361 shares of BDX stock.  The proceeds were used in financing the CR Bard acquisition.  I bought on the 8th making me eligible for the February 1st dividend.  I suspect we’ll see a little dilution in BDX when these mature.


So there we are with my ‘week in review’ and hope you had a good start to your year!


 

 

Johnny-come-latelies

Generally I refrain from back-to-back posts with similar topics but decided to make an exception this week as the moving parts have kicked into high gear.  My post last week addressed my uneasiness with cryptocurrency as well as my interest in the underlying blockchain technology.  It appears that my view has some support as two blockchain ETFs debuted on January 17th (BLOK and BLCN) and one January 25th (LEGR).  This should be followed by KOIN next week.  Horizons and Harvest (HBLK) also have ETF applications pending.  Grenadier penned a piece on Seeking Alpha that did some analysis on the first two.  Four of LEGR’s top five holdings are included in either one or both of the originals so it will probably be similar.  David Snowball highlights this sentiment in his piece There’s no idea so dumb that it won’t attract a dozen ETFs stating, “…there are no publicly traded companies that specialize in blockchain; there are mostly companies with a dozen other lines of business that have some sort of efforts going into blockchain.”  This is 100% correct.

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Oct 2016 Update

October was basically a quiet month with OPEC failing – once again – to shore up their hold on the oil markets.  Chevron announced a small increase in their dividend maintaining their status as a Champion.  Several small positions were added at month end as the market began a pullback (continuing into November) enabling me to start redeploying funds received from PNY’s merger with DUK.  This month The S&P dropped 1.94%.  My portfolio was basically flat, ending down 0.1%.  Note: I normalized these numbers to consider the impact of cash infusion from the merger.  My ‘pure’ equity positions decreased by 4.15%.  The need for this normalization should end as my excess cash is used.  This increases my lead for the year to 11.5% with two months to go.

Headlines impacting my portfolio:

  • 10/3 – JNS to merge w/ Henderson
  • 10/11 – SRCE gains FRB approval for Sarasota, FL branch
  • 10/19 – C finalist to be designated as clearing firm for Renminbi trades

Blog Updates:

I’m a little behind again this month but the portfolio data has been compiled and will be posted in the next couple of days with the goals update later in the week.  The Unabridged portfolio should be next week as per normal.

Portfolio Updates:

  • Closed PNY due to merger
  • Added to BMO
  • Added to CVLY prior to ex-div for the stock dividend
  • Added to JNS (weakness on currency exposure)
  • New position – ABM
  • New position – AMT (Jan)
  • New position -BLL
  • New position -CASY
  • New position -CHCO
  • New position -KOF (Mex. peso exposure)
  • New position -COKE
  • New position -CCE (UK exposure)
  • New position -CSAL
  • New position -CTBI (Jan)
  • New position -CCI
  • New position -HUM (Jan)
  • New position -LAMR
  • New position -NWFL
  • New position -OCFC
  • New position -ONB
  • New position -OUT
  • New position -PLD
  • New position -QCOM
  • New position -DGX (Jan)
  • New position -SRC (Jan)
  • New position – SGBK (Cuba exosure)
  • New position – BATRA
  • New position – VALU
  • New position  – VER (Jan)
  • New position  – YUMC (YUM spin-off)

Dividends:

  • October delivered an increase of 28.9% over October 2015.  This was due about evenly between dividend increases (Y/Y) and late 2015 funding.
  • October was down 10.68% from the prior quarter due to special and semi-annual payments in July.
  • Announced dividend increases currently average 12.59% with 67.11% of my portfolio having at least one raise so far this year.
  • Through October, dividends received exceeded total 2015 dividends by 7.2%.

Roughly half of the PNY/DUK proceeds have been redeployed with an additional 3 orders pending for January payers.   I’ve filled some of the hole I’ll face in January, so I plan on maintaining a small cash position through the election before making further decisions.

Spinoffs:

The XRX spin (Conduent) is on track to complete by year end.  MetLife has filed for a spin of their Brighthouse Financial unit under the ticker BHF.

Mergers:

Proxies were received and voted for both the LSBG/BHB and AGU/POT mergers.

Closing the Primerica Experiment

One year ago I embarked on a mission to determine whether Primerica stock (PRI) was a better investment then the sum of its’ parts – well at least most of the parts.  SEC filings were scoured to identify their investments as insurance companies are required to maintain reserves (the float).  A portfolio was established (3Q 2015) , funded (4Q 2015) and tracked (Oct 2015 to Sep 2016) to be able to declare a winner.

And the winner is … Primerica by 16.15%.  Now I realize that a single snapshot in time may not be reflective of reality, but to my surprise Primerica outperformed the basket through this snapshot in time.

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Jun 2016 Update

June was a roller coaster month starting with lackluster jobs numbers and ending with Brexit.  In between was the Fed leaving rates unchanged yet again.  The sleeper story being the CCAR results being released (partial results here).  Notably, Citi received approval to increase their dividend by 220%.    Although the DOW lost 871 points over two days, it recovered at month end while the S&P was flat for the month.

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Unbundled PRI Q3

Once again while I’m waiting for my last two dividends to post to close out the quarter, an  update to the Primerica challenge is due.  Just to recap, a Primerica rep provided some advice to me a while back the gist being even if I bought no products, I might want to buy the stock since it has performed ‘pretty well’.  So I did – but got to thinking – do the pieces that are sold via the reps perform better as a standalone investment rather than packaged under the Primerica banner?  The results thus far have been mixed and as we head into the final quarter of this year long challenge, Primerica has taken the lead but the game remains a tossup.

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