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Why Is Sallie Mae (SLM) Up 1.8% Since Last Earnings Report?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Sallie Mae (SLM - Free Report) . Shares have added about 1.8% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Sallie Mae due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Sallie Mae Q3 Earnings Top Estimates, Expenses Rise

Sallie Mae delivered third-quarter 2019 positive earnings surprise of 16%. Core earnings of 29 cents per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 25 cents. Moreover, the figure jumped 24% from the prior-year quarter.

Increase in net interest income and elevated non-interest income were tailwinds. Deposits and loans grew considerably and capital position was strong. However, these positives were offset by elevated expenses and poor credit quality.

The company’s GAAP net income attributable to common stock came in at $124 million compared with $100 million a year ago.

Net Interest Income Increases, Expenses Escalate

Net interest income for the third quarter came in at $405 million, up 13.4% year over year. This improvement was mainly driven by higher interest income. Net interest margin contracted 45 basis points (bps) to 5.55%.

The company reported non-interest income of $17 million against non-interest loss of $86 million in the prior-year quarter. This upside stemmed from higher gains on derivatives and hedging activities and other income.

The company’s non-interest expenses jumped 1.9% year over year to $153.6 million. The upsurge mainly resulted from increased compensation and benefits expenses.

Efficiency ratio, on a non-GAAP basis, decreased to 36.6% from 54.7%. Generally, a lower ratio indicates improved profitability.

Credit Quality Worsens

Provision for loan losses was $99 million, up 41.4% from $70 million witnessed in the prior-year quarter.

Delinquencies as a percentage of private education loans in repayment were 2.8%, up 5 bps.

Loans & Deposits Grow

As of Sep 30, 2019, deposits of Sallie Mae Bank were $22.6 billion, up from $21.2 billion as of Jun 30, 2019. Increase in retail and other, along with brokered deposits, contributed to this upside.

Private education loan portfolio was $22.9 billion, up nearly 7% sequentially. Average yield on the loan portfolio was 9.30%, down 9 bps.

Strong Capital Position & Capital Deployment Update

As of Sep 30, 2019, Sallie Mae Bank’s common equity Tier 1 capital was 11.5%, exceeding the “well capitalized” industry benchmark in regulatory requirements.

The company repurchased $37 million of common stock under share repurchase program at an average price of $8.45.

2019 Outlook

The company expects core earnings per share to be between $1.23 and $1.24 for this year, up from $1.21-$1.23 expected previously.

Private education loan originations are projected to be $5.7 billion. The company’s full-year non-GAAP operating efficiency ratio is expected in the 35-36% band.

Management expects Private education loan delinquencies of about 2.8% for the remaining 2019.

NIM is expected to continue declining in the remainder of 2019 with no EPS impact as the company has been increasing liquidity on the balance sheet.

Percentage of loans and repayment for the provision is expected increase to 1.65%. Also, the company expects to create $10 million of provision in the fourth quarter due to lower interest rates.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates revision. The consensus estimate has shifted -9.94% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

Currently, Sallie Mae has a poor Growth Score of F, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of B on the value side, putting it in the second quintile for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Notably, Sallie Mae has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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