The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Synovus Financial, American International Group, Bank of America, Citigroup and Boston Scientific

Zacks

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – December 20, 2012 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Synovus Financial Corporation (SNV), American International Group Inc. (AIG), Bank of America Corporation (BAC), Citigroup Inc. (C) and Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Treasury to Exit TARP in 2013

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department released an update on its strategy initiated early this year of exiting its remaining Troubled Asset Relief Program (:TARP) investments in banks through the Capital Purchase Program (:CPP). Currently, 218 banks remain in TARP’s Capital Purchase Program out of a total 707 and there remains $7.5 billion in debt to be paid to taxpayers.

The $700 billion TARP, which was initiated in 2008 to aid the nation’s financial industry, has surfaced as a success story. Of the total $700 billion bailout money, banks and other financial institutions received $245 billion. Moreover, $268 billion including dividends and interest payments has been recovered by the government to date, reflecting positive return for taxpayers worth $23 billion.

Development till Now

The Treasury’s strategy implemented in March 2012 outlined three options for the recovery of bailout money from the remaining banks and financial institutions. These included the divesture of investments or restructuring of the investments to make repayment easier rather than waiting for these banks to repay.

Since March 2012, the Treasury auctioned its investments in 91 banks for taxpayer proceeds worth $1.5 billion. However, these banks have already paid more than $300 million, including dividends and interest to taxpayers since their investments.

Moreover, through the period from March 2012 to December 2012, 49 banks have repaid bailout money at full par value of the original CPP investment for taxpayer proceeds worth $6.9 billion. Further, three other investments were restructured.

Therefore, banks are persistently repaying at par and Treasury anticipates further repayments going forward.

Strategy to Follow Ahead

Treasury anticipates auctioning CPP’s preferred shares or subordinated debt in about two-thirds of the remaining banks in 2013, bulk of which are expected to repay at par. Moreover, it can also opt for restructuring the investments or wait for them to repay themselves, which might take longer to recover the money.

As per the Treasury department, the strategy which it is following to recoup investments would be beneficial for financially troubled banks, which are struggling to repay debts. Moreover, the Treasury’s plans are subject to market conditions and can be revised when required.

Notably, Synovus Financial Corporation (SNV), with $967.9 million of repayment for bailout funds is the biggest bank left in TARP. The company, with a fourth-quarter pretax charge of approximately $155 million on the sale of distressed assets is trying to improve its balance sheet to repay TARP as early as the second quarter of 2013.

Among other TARP programs, American International Group Inc. (AIG), the major recipient of bailout funds concluded the final leg of its government bailout loan repayment as the U.S. Federal Reserve completed the sale of the remaining 15.9% ownership in the company. Accordingly, the leftover 234.2 million shares were priced at $32.50 a share, for a total amount of about $7.61 billion. However, the Fed will continue to retain the warrants in order to buy AIG stock in the future.

AIG has successfully lessened the Treasury’s ownership from 92% in January last year to 15.9% in September 2012, when the Fed raised $20.7 billion from the company’s stock sale. The latest share-sale released AIG of the $182.3 billion rescue loan taken $70 billion from the Treasury and remaining from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (:FRBNY) in September 2008, during the peak of the financial crisis.

After the abovementioned sale, the overall positive return on the Federal Reserve and Treasury summed to $22.7 billion, with Treasury gaining a positive return of $5.0 billion and the Federal Reserve - $17.7 billion.

Conclusion

Considering the effectiveness in easing credit and capital market pressures, restoring confidence in the financial system and recovering the injected money at a lower-than-expected cost, it can be concluded that the government’s highly criticized bailout program has finally emerged as a winner.

While most of the major financial institutions including Bank of America Corporation (BAC), Citigroup Inc. (C) and others have repaid their TARP loans in full, a substantial amount is yet to be recovered. Hence, the ultimate success of the TARP is still to be gauged.

BSX Initiates New Pacing Lead

Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX) recently commenced a trial for its next-generation Ingevity pacing leads. The first patient was implanted to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and performance of the leads.

Pacing leads are insulated wires to treat bradycardia by connecting the implantable pacemaker to the patient’s heart. Bradycardia is a condition, where the heart beats too slowly and curbs oxygen supply to the body. In order to maintain the required heart rate for a physical activity, pacemakers and leads work together to stimulate the heart rate, thereby avoiding oxygen deficiency in the body.

The trial will establish whether Ingevity pacing leads are superior to standard leads currently available. The performance will be assessed on the basis of adjustability, reliability, fixation and electrical performance of Ingevity.

Also worth mentioning in this context is the ability of Ingevity leads to function in a magnetic resonance imaging (:MRI) environment. This could present an advantage over standard leads as many patients with pacemakers are barred from undergoing an MRI scan, as powerful magnets used in MRI scans may interfere with pacemaker functionality.
 
The non-randomized study will be used by Boston Scientific to support the regulatory filing of Ingevity in the U.S. and the EU.

Boston Scientific is also looking to study Ingevity leads with its Ingenio pacemakers. The company plans to initiate a study in the first half of 2013 to assess the performance of the Ingevity-Ingenio combination in MRI scans. Results from this study will be used to seek FDA approval for using Boston Scientific’s Ingevity and Ingenio in conjunction.

Acknowledging the challenges at play in its core segments, Boston Scientific is focusing on strategic initiatives like portfolio expansion, restructuring initiatives, emerging markets and share buyback programs. With the dismal performance of the company’s Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) line, product approvals in latent areas should help reduce the impact of the sluggish CRM market.

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Read the analyst report on SNV

Read the analyst report on AIG

Read the analyst report on BAC

Read the analyst report on C

Read the analyst report on BSX

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