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S&P Lowers Rating Outlook on BB&T

Zacks Equity Research

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Services – a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (MHP) – lowered its rating outlook on BB&T Corporation (BBT). The agency downgraded the company’s rating outlook to ‘Negative’ from ‘Stable’. Further, it affirmed BB&T’s ratings at ‘A-‘. This revised outlook follows the Federal Reserve’s rejection of BB&T’s capital plan.

The downgrade of rating outlook was driven by unanticipated weaknesses in BB&T’s risk-management processes. Last week, the Fed had rejected the company’s capital plan citing qualitative reasons. S&P noticed deficiencies in BB&T’s capital planning process, which might have included flawed corporate governance, unresolved supervisory issues, risk-management processes, unsatisfactory assumptions about the capital plan and an unstable capital distribution.

Further, S&P noted that BB&T’s re-calculation of its risk-weighted assets (RWAs) had led to an increase in RWAs. This subsequently had led to lower capital ratios than predicted by the Fed.

However, S&P expects BB&T to resubmit its capital plan before the end of the second quarter. S&P also expects the company to amend any process-oriented issue cited by the Fed.

Earlier this month, Moody’s Investors Service – the rating arm of Moody’s Corporation (MCO) – also downgraded BB&T and its subsidiaries’ outlook to ‘Negative’ from ‘Stable’. However, it affirmed senior debt rating of ‘A2’ and deposit rating as well as baseline credit rating of ‘A1’.

The primary reason for downgrade was BB&T’s readjustment of its risk-weighted assets related to unfunded lending commitments, which affected its capital ratios.

Currently, BB&T retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Among other major banks, BankUnited, Inc. (BKU) is worth a look with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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