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Bear of the Day: National Bank Holdings (NBHC)

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National Bank Holdings Corporation (NBHC - Free Report) is a $1 billion enterprise based in Denver and serving its homestate and the greater Kansas City region, Texas, Utah, and New Mexico with over 80 branches.

Created to build a leading community bank franchise through its bank subsidiary, NBH Bank, National Bank Holdings Corporation operates a network of banking centers, serving individual consumers, small, medium and large businesses, and government and non-profit entities.

While its comprehensive residential mortgage banking group primarily serves the bank's core footprint in Colorado, NBH Bank operates under the following brand names throughout its growing territory:

Community Banks of Colorado and Community Banks Mortgage, a division of NBH Bank, in Colorado, Bank Midwest and Bank Midwest Mortgage in Kansas and Missouri, and Hillcrest Bank and Hillcrest Bank Mortgage in Texas, Utah and New Mexico.

Why is NBHC a Zacks #5 Rank?

The Zacks Rank is a quantitative model which pits 4,000 public companies against each other every day based on the earnings estimate revisions (EER) that come directly from Wall Street investment bank analysts.

I like to call it a "bell curve cage match" because only the top 5% of those 4,000 companies -- those 200 with the best EER profile -- get to be a Zacks #1 Rank Strong Buy.

Meanwhile, the bottom 5% -- those 200 with the biggest downward EPS revisions -- get to be a Zacks #5 Rank Strong Sell.

And that leaves another 3,600 companies duking it out in the middle of the bell curve cage match. If you're curious, only another 15% get to be Buys, and the bulk of the 4,000 end up in the middle of the curve as you might expect.

Long story shorter, the reason that NBHC is in the cellar of the Zacks Rank is because the 3 covering analyst submitting estimates have revised down this year's consensus from $2.90 to $2.79 in the past 60 days (the prime window for viewing EER).

Not only does that represent -4% "growth" in EPS, next year also took a hit with a consensus downward revision from $2.57 to $2.46 -- which represents a 12% decline on top of this year's loss.

An Investment Year, Perhaps

We know small banks have had it rough in the past decade with interest rates so low, crunching the NIM (net interest margin) they can collect on deposits vs. loans.

And then there is the unfolding megatrend of FinTech, where companies like PayPal (PYPL - Free Report) , Square (SQ - Free Report) , and SoFi (SOFI - Free Report) seek to engage consumers enough to provide a financial ecosystem that almost makes any traditional bank obsolete.

Indeed, the reason I chose to profile NBHC today is that a much bigger regional bank from the Southeast just launched a Millennial-friendly app that intends to capture the "no worries" attitude of youth about their finances.

Regions Financial Corporation (RF - Free Report) is a $20 billion member of the S&P 500 with 1,400 community bank branches and the largest deposit holder in Alabama and Tennessee. It is also one of the largest deposit holders in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.

The new Regions marketing copy is going full-tilt for the digital app crowd with these attack points, in my humble fintech opinion (based on 30 years experience)...

**They are appealing to new age Millennials/GenY/Z who don’t want to "sweat" about money and just want experiences.
**They are further appealing to them by painting themselves “green” and environmentally conscious. The website is rich with such language and imagery.
**They profile a smartphone app, a major "youth" selling point at this point in digital culture.

It will be interesting if the Regions marketing pitch succeeds or not. Because, as I learned some 30 years ago in my idealistic 20s, you can’t save the planet if your own financial house isn’t in order.

The NBHC Investment in FinTech Innovation

While I'm not advising to buy NBHC shares with their deteriorating earnings trend, I am very interested in their foray into Fintech. Here was an August press release that really caught my eye since I follow so many startups in this arena...

National Bank Holdings Corporation Announces New Strategic Vision For Small And Medium-Sized Businesses

Company Release - 8/10/2021

Digital financial ecosystem delivers powerful solutions

DENVER, Aug. 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- National Bank Holdings Corporation (NYSE: NBHC) announced today that it is collaborating with Finstro Holdings Pty Ltd., a technology-powered provider of digital working capital solutions, and Figure Technologies, a blockchain fintech firm. These partnerships will accelerate the realization of NBHC’s vision for building a comprehensive digital financial ecosystem for small and medium-sized businesses.

Tim Laney, Chief Executive Officer of NBHC shared, "Our vision is to create a digital financial ecosystem within a bank regulatory framework. We are collaborating with best of breed technology partners to deliver innovative and powerful solutions to solve problems for small and medium-sized businesses in the United States."

NBHC expects to finalize an investment in Finstro, which has developed working capital solutions delivered via a fully digital platform. Brad Prout, CEO and Founder of Finstro commented, "We are honored to partner with NBHC and deliver technology-enabled credit and payment solutions that support B2B trade and inspire growth."

In addition, NBHC has invested in Figure Technologies and will be collaborating on a range of blockchain related initiatives to drive innovation, speed and convenience for payments, investments and other financial transactions. "We’re excited to partner with NBHC to bring blockchain payment solutions to small and medium-sized businesses," said Mike Cagney, co-founder and CEO of Figure Technologies.

"We share a common objective of leveraging Provenance Blockchain to bring faster, cheaper and immediate payment solutions outside of interchange."

CEO Tim Laney sounds like he knows what he's doing to turn it around for NBHC. And something happened in mid-Sep (besides the Fed) that saw big buyers come in and drive shares up toward new highs.

Keep this one in your pocket. Because when the EPS estimates stop going down and start going back up, it could be an emerging regional bank to own as they enter the FinTech arena.

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