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Bank ETFs Struggling on Mixed Earnings & Coronavirus-Hit Views

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The coronavirus crisis’ impact is quite pronounced on bank earnings released this week. Big banks have raised concerns about severe economic downturns and worsening credit quality. To prepare for the impending defaults, banking majors have kept billions of dollars in reserves. At the current level, most of the big bank stocks have a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) or 5 (Strong Sell). Investors should also note that several banking biggies have halted share repurchases (read: Are Buyback ETFs in Troubled Waters?).

On the brighter side, strong underwriting business and fixed income revenues drove results of some players. Some players also witnessed good currency and commodities Client Execution (FICC) revenues, uptick in wealth management and consumer banking business that reflect rise in deposit balances and credit card loans.

Though the earnings results for the space were mixed, chances of higher default down the line have cast a pall over banks’ outlook. Let’s take a look at major banking earnings releases in detail:

Earnings in Detail

Citigroup’s C adjusted earnings per share of $1.06 for the quarter handily outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 89 cents. However, it was below the year-ago quarter’s $1.87. Revenues rose 12% year over year to $20.7 billion in the first quarter and also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $19.1 billion. Higher revenues, both from Global Consumer Banking (GCB) and Institutional Clients Group (ICG), mainly led to the upside.Citigroup’s total allowance for loan losses was $20.8 billion at the end of the reported quarter or 2.91% of total loans compared with $12.3 billion or 1.82% in the year-ago period.

Bank of America’s (BACfirst-quarter 2020 earnings of 40 cents per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 42 cents. This can be attributed to reserve build of $3.6 billion for coronavirus-related crisis. A lower interest rate environment hurt BofA’s net interest income (down 2% year over year) despite decent loan growth. Moreover, the company’s operating expenses rose moderately. Net revenues amounted to $22.8 billion, which marginally beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $22.5 billion. However, the reported figure was down 1% on a year-over-year basis.

Goldman Sachs GS reported first-quarter 2020 earnings per share of $3.11, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.83. However, the bottom line compares unfavorably with earnings of $5.71 recorded in the year-earlier quarter. Goldman’s net revenues were down 1% year over year to $8.74 billion in the reported quarter. The revenue figure, however, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6.75 billion. Provision for credit losses was $937 million in the first quarter, significantly up from the prior-year $224 million.

JPMorgan’s JPM first-quarter 2020 earnings came in at 78 cents per share, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.70, thanks to a substantial rise in provisions owing to coronavirus-related concerns. The company built a large reserve to tide over economic slowdown. Lower interest rates drove mortgage production revenues (up 60%), while loan sales in Home Lending resulted in a decline in servicing fees (down 99%). Net revenues declined 3% to $28.3 billion from the year-ago quarter. Also, the top line lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $29 billion.

Wells Fargo & Company WFC reported first-quarter 2020 earnings of a penny per share, including a reserve build of $3.1 billion and certain other items amid the coronavirus scare. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same was pegged at 22 cents. The quarter’s total revenues came in at $17.7 billion, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $19.3 billion. The revenue figure also declined from the year-ago quarter’s $21.6 billion.

Morgan Stanley MS first-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings of 99 cents per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.07 and declined 26% from the year-ago quarter. Morgan Stanley recorded an 11% year-over-year decline in advisory fees. Equity underwriting fees inched down 1%, while fixed income underwriting revenues grew 10% from the prior-year quarter. Revenues of $9.49 billion beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $9.08 billion.

Market Impact

Against this backdrop, investors might be wondering how financial ETFs like iShares U.S. Financial Services ETF (IYG - Free Report) , iShares US Financials ETF (IYF - Free Report) , Invesco KBW Bank ETF (KBWB - Free Report) , Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF - Free Report) and Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH - Free Report) have responded to the earnings releases. These funds have considerable exposure to the aforementioned stocks (see all Financial ETFs here).

Goldman and Morgan Stanley are not that prominent in the afore-mentioned ETFs but are rather heavy on iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF (IAI - Free Report) . Post earnings, shares of most of the big banks slumped. Investors should have a cautious approach toward the big bank ETFs in the near term, at least until the economy picks up.

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