BB&T's Outlook Revised to Stable

Zacks Equity Research

The outlook on BB&T Corporation (BBT) and its subsidiaries was upgraded from ‘Negative’ to ‘Stable’ by Moody’s Investors Service, the credit rating wing of Moody's Corporation (MCO) on Friday. The ratings on the company and its arms were affirmed.

While the parent company’s senior debt was maintained at A2, the non-cumulative preferred stock was affirmed as Baa2 (hyb). Further, the standalone bank financial strength, baseline credit assessment and long-term deposits of its subsidiary bank were maintained at B, a1 and A1, respectively. Additionally, the ratings of BB&T’s short-term obligations were reiterated as Prime -1.

As per Moody’s, though BB&T has investments in risky real estate holdings, the company’s loan portfolio remains well diversified. Moreover, the company has consciously slowed down the pace of growth in Commercial & Industrial loan and commitment apprehending a negative impact from an overall unfavorable economic condition in quarters ahead.

Moreover, BB&T has checked its aggressive inorganic growth process, as exhibited over the last few years, to some extent considering the probable risk associated with it. These initiatives tend to secure investors against future losses and thereby justify the outlook upgrade.

Moreover, Moody’s remains confident about BB&T’s steady capital position given the recent approval of its 2014 capital plan by the Federal Reserve following the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCARF). The capital plan was relatively conservative and included a dividend hike of 4.3% to 24 cents.

Nevertheless, unprecedented increase in loans, deterioration in efficiency ratio and credit quality may result in negative rating pressure for BB&T. Moreover, Moody’s expects the company to continue facing net interest margin pressure, although it is unlikely to impact the ratings negatively.

The rating agencies like Moody’s primarily assess the risk absorbing capacities of large financial organizations. Therefore, a positive ratings’ revision, assures investors about the credibility of the company.

BB&T currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Better-ranked banks include PrivateBancorp, Inc. (PVTB) and First Financial Corp. (THFF). Both these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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