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7 Bank Stocks to Leave in the Vault

Louis Navellier

After the Trump tax cut in 2017, it was easy to see that big corporations were the big winners. They could extend their massive stock buyback programs into 2018 and keep earnings growing until the economy got back up to speed. But it also helped the banks, especially regional bank stocks.

They were able to increase their lending and much of the red tape that was put on bigger national banks was reduced for the regionals, like lowering reserve requirements to induce lending.

Also, an improving economy, steady interest rates and low inflation all contributed to their ability to lend with better margins. But the culmination of Q4 with the December selloff, gave some pause to the industry.

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However, given the economic picture in the U.S., regional banks looked like their run would continue, regardless of trade wars and external factors.

Things are changing. Some financial stocks still have what it takes, but others are getting increasingly unstable, and they’re overbought at this point. The seven bank stocks to leave in the vault are at the tip of a growing iceberg.

My Portfolio Grader has rated all of these stocks with ratings at D or below.


Barclays (BCS)

Barclays PLC ADR (NYSE:BCS) is a U.K.-based bank that has been operating in and beyond the British Empire since 1896. But as the empire shrank, so did BCS influence.

Today it remains a respected global banking institution, but it has had its troubles in recent decades. One of its biggest problems now is Brexit. With no idea how Brexit will (or won’t) be delivered, the City — the financial center of London — is losing businesses.

The British economy is on hold and investors are looking for more clarity in their banking partners and their investment money.

That explains why BCS is flat year-to-date and off 30% in the past 12 months. Things aren’t getting any better at this point. Best to watch this one from afar, even with its 4.4% dividend.


Umpqua (UMPQ)

Umpqua Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:UMPQ) is a mid-cap regional bank that is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

With roots going back to the timber industry in the 1950s, UMPQ has grown with Oregon, especially Portland. But like the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, times are a little tougher for this regional bank these days.

It has locations across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. And it has an array of customers, from individuals to large corporations. But the investment side of the business is slowing since investors aren’t investing like they were in 2018. Treasuries yields are dropping. And housing starts are slowing. None of which are good for a banks’ asset portfolio.

UMPQ stock is up a mere 1.5% YTD and off 32% in the past year. Its 5.2% looks generous, but isn’t worth the risk at this point.


UBS Group (UBS)

UBS Group AG (NYSE:UBS) has been around in one form or another for more than 155 years and remains the largest bank in Switzerland. In the good ol’ days, it had quite a brisk international business since the Swiss had such rigorous privacy laws.

And even now, half the billionaires in the world still have accounts with the bank.

But the privacy laws have changed significantly and the financial crisis in 2008 laid UBS low. When it re-emerged, it had transitioned into more of an investment bank that also specialized in wealth management.

It remains a significant financial institution, but this isn’t a good time for the bank since it is still sorting out its issues from a decade ago and is trying to navigate the challenges of its global business. This isn’t the time to bank on UBS stock.

While it delivers a generous 6% dividend, the stock is off 26% for the year and 7% year to date.


State Street (STT)

State Street Corp (NYSE:STT) is a holding company that operates State Street Bank. But its chief income generator is an investment services and wealth management company.

The problem is, while the markets have been chugging along up now, the amount of investment in the markets is down overall. That means after the big December selloff and subsequent rally, some of the sidelined cash didn’t make it back in the markets.

That’s pretty evident in STT’s late April Q1 earnings release. Its fee income was off considerably. Fee income is the money the company makes off account-related fees. And the stock has been punished for it.

STT stock is off 43% in the past year and 11% YTD. In the past 3 months, it’s off 23%, which shows the effect of that dour earnings report. Its 3.4% dividend isn’t even that tempting.


PacWest Bancorp (PACW)

PacWest Bancorp (NASDAQ:PACW) is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. That may give you an idea of the customers that they are looking to attract.

And PACW isn’t a bank for individuals, rather a bank that focuses on services for mid-sized companies. You can imagine that its reach up and down California means it has a good book of business in tech, aerospace, shipping and agriculture.

But the thing is, the tech sector is getting hit because of the trade war with China, as are the aerospace and ag sectors. It announced Q1 earnings in mid-April and they weren’t encouraging. It beat earnings expectations by a penny but came in below expectations on revenue, which was off 3% for the same quarter last year.

PACW stock has been trending down for the past year, off 31% in that time. And while it’s up 9% YTD, that’s because of the January rally; since then, its general trend has been downward.

Its 6.6% dividend may look tempting, but it comes at the price of performance.


KeyCorp (KEY)

KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) may have started in Albany, New York over 190 years ago, but now it has operations across the Northeast, Midwest and West. It operates in 15 states and has over 1,100 branches.

But KEY did not have a strong Q1 and its quarter-to-quarter numbers were also down significantly. The biggest red flag to all this is the fact that conditions should be ideal for a regional bank that spans a number of different regions.

However, the Midwest manufacturing and agriculture sectors aren’t strong and tech is challenged. And that showed in Q1 numbers — earnings missed, revenue missed, net interest income was down as was noninterest income. Also down were net interest margin and return on average assets, while book value rose.

Even its 4.2% dividend isn’t worth the trouble at this point.


BankUnited (BKU)

BankUnited Inc (NYSE:BKU) was the 2009 reincarnation of a failed bank under the same name. It was capitalized by private equity firms like Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX), Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG) as well as Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross.

It operates in South Florida as well as the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas. While it has retail and commercial operations, it focuses on the commercial side.

The trouble with the bank now is, the economy is slowing and with U.S. Treasury yields dropping, it is going to have a challenging year providing growth. A bank’s Treasury portfolio is a large part of its revenue since it has to have a good chunk of ready reserves to cover its loans. Lower rates mean lower margins on its loan book.

BKU stock is off 23% in the past year, yet YTD it’s up 9%. But don’t think that means there’s bullish sentiment. The stock rallied in January and has slid off those highs. Its paltry 2.6% dividend isn’t a game changer.

Louis Navellier is a renowned growth investor. He is the editor of four investing newsletters: Growth Investor, Breakthrough StocksAccelerated Profits and Platinum Growth. His most popular service, Growth Investor, has a track record of beating the market 3:1 over the last 14 years. He uses a combination of quantitative and fundamental analysis to identify market-beating stocks. Mr. Navellier has made his proven formula accessible to investors via his free, online stock rating tool, PortfolioGrader.com. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.

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