CBA: big four to raise another $32 billion of equity | afr.com

From Chris Joye at AFR:

On the question of whether the majors are done and dusted on capital raising, investors need go no further than CBA’s chief credit strategist, Scott Rundell, and CBA’s head of fixed-income strategy, Adam Donaldson, who on Thursday published a report arguing the big four are short $32 billion of CET1 capital.

“Capitalisation [is] likely to be a source of credit strength for banks as they build toward meeting APRA’s expected ‘unquestionably strong’ capital requirements,” Rundell and Donaldson said. The authors reiterated previous analysis that suggested the majors’ target CET1 ratios will settle at “around 10 per cent to 10.5 per cent”, which “would put the majors at the bottom of the top quartile” of global competitors.

Read more at CBA: big four to raise another $32 billion of equity | afr.com

Aussie big four banks overpriced

Australia’s big four banks have raised significant amounts of new capital as the realization finally dawned on regulators that they were highly leveraged and likely to act as “an accelerant rather than a shock-absorber” in the next downturn.

Chris Joye writes in the AFR that the big four have raised $36 billion of new capital in the 2015 financial year:

Before Westpac’s $3.5 billion equity issue this week, the big banks had, through gritted teeth, accumulated $27 billion of extra equity over the 2015 financial year through “surprise” ASX issues, underwritten dividend reinvestment plans, asset sales and organic capital generation via retained earnings. If you add in “additional tier one” (AT1) capital issues (think CBA’s $3 billion “Perls VII”), total equity capital originated rises to about $32 billion, or almost $36 billion after Westpac’s effort this week.

The effect of deleveraging is clearly visible on the ASX 300 Banks Index [XBAK].

ASX 300 Banks Index

Having broken primary support, the index is retracing to test resistance at 84. Bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow, followed by reversal below zero, both warn of a primary down-trend. Respect of resistance at 84 would strengthen the signal, offering a (medium-term) target of 68* for the next decline.

* Target calculation: 76 – ( 84 – 76 ) = 68

Matt Wilson, head of financial research at the $10 billion Australian equities shop JCP Investment Partners, says the bad news for those “long” the oligarchs is that “we are still only halfway through the majors’ capital raising process at best”.

Chris calculates the remaining shortfall to be at least $35 billion:

Accounting for future asset growth, I calculated the big banks will need another $35 billion of tier one capital if the regulator pushes them towards a leverage ratio of, say, 5.5 per cent by 2019, which is still well below the 75th percentile peer.

One of the big four’s most attractive features is their high dividend-yield and attached franking credits, but Chris compares this to the far lower dividend payout ratios of international competitors and quotes several sources who believe the present ratios are unsustainable.

JCP’s Wilson does not think payout ratios are sustainable and accuses the big banks of “over-earning”. “Bad debts of 0.15 per cent are running at a 63 per cent discount to the through-the-cycle trend of 0.40 per cent,” he says. “Should we see a normal credit cycle unfold, then payouts will be cut significantly due to the pro-cyclicality of risk-weighted assets calculations and bad debts jumping above trend.”

He concludes:

Aboud [Stephen Aboud, head of LHC Capital Fund] reckons artificially high yields also explain why the big banks’ “2.5 times price-to-book valuations are miles above the 1-1.5 times benchmark of global peers”, which he describes as “a joke”.

Plenty of food for thought.

Read more from Chris Joye at Hedge funds that shorted the big banks | AFR

Australia: UBS eyes $23b capital hit to big banks

Chris Joye at AFR reports on a recent study by UBS banking analysts Jonathon Mott and Adam Lee. The two believe that David Murray’s financial system inquiry is likely to recommend an increase of 2 to 3% in major banks tier 1 capital ratios.

Based on an extra 3 per cent capital buffer for too-big-to-fail banks, UBS finds that the major banks would have to “increase common equity tier one capital by circa $23 billion above current forecasts by the 2016 financial year end”.

…This automatically lowers the major banks’ average return on equity at the end of the 2016 financial year from 15.4 per cent to 14.3 per cent, or by about 116 basis points across the sector. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac come off best according to the analysis, with ANZ and National Australia Bank hit much harder.

Readers should bear in mind that capital ratios are calculated on risk-weighted assets and not all banks employ the same risk-weightings, with CBA more highly leveraged than ANZ. As I pointed out earlier this week, regulators need to monitor both risk-weighted capital ratios and un-weighted leverage ratios to prevent abuse of the system.

Bear in mind, also, that a fall in return on equity does not necessarily mean shareholders will be worse off. Strengthening bank balance sheets will lower their relative risk, improve their cost of funding, and enhance valuations.

Read more at UBS eyes $23b capital hit to big banks.

NAB Convertible Pref issue | FIIG

From FIIG Newswire:

National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) has announced to the ASX the issue of a listed, floating rate convertible preference share (\”CPS II\”) with an indicative dividend of 325 to 340 bps over the bank bill swap rate. NAB is seeking to raise $750,000,000 for general corporate purposes. APRA has confirmed that the CPS II will count as additional Tier 1 Capital, supporting the NAB\’s regulatory capital requirements.

A welcome move to see the big four banks raising more Tier 1 capital. My view is that TBTF banks should have a minimum leverage ratio of 10 percent — more than double the current 4 to 5 percent.

Read more at FIIG Announcement.

Basel takes aim at Mega Bank | | MacroBusiness

Deep T: As the research previously posted here on MB shows, Mega Bank [the big four Australian banks: NAB, CBA, WBC and ANZ] carries a level of capital against residential mortgages that is less than 2% even with mortgage insurance. Mega Bank uses internal risk based models to determine the amount of capital which are primarily based on the historical default rate of Australian mortgages relative to loan to value ratios. The period over which Mega Bank assesses the historical default rate is primarily over a period of rising house prices fueled by the expansion of mortgage credit by Mega Bank. Thereby masking probable default levels over a more benign period…..

via Basel takes aim at Mega Bank | | MacroBusiness.