Well what do you know. On Wednesday, D.C.’s “snowquester” came in like a lion and left, sadly, like a lamb. So what do we have to hang our hat on this week? Well, the Federal Reserve did release its stress test results for the country’s largest banks yesterday afternoon. Interesting enough to make today’s week-in-review? Take a read through these three stories that I read/watched/heard to find out.
- While I wasn’t in my hometown of Boston, MA to hear this first hand, I have it on good authority that a number of the bankers presenting at KBW’s regional bank conference two weeks ago spoke on our country’s rapid move towards energy independence — and on the real economic growth they are seeing in their regions as a result. If you’re interested, this equity research note (FSW Energy and the Regional Banks), authored by Keefe’s Fred Cannon, is definitely worth a read.
- Juxtaposing energy needs with banking services reminded me of a “debate” between three bank analysts, including Fred, that centered on comparing banks to utility companies. Building off those perspectives, I found myself talking with John Eggemeyer (the co-Founder & Managing Principal @ Castle Creek Capital) last Friday afternoon about this very thing. While it didn’t make it into last week’s post, his hypothesis that the financial community bares all the characteristics of a mature industry sent me searching for white papers I worked on while in business school. John saved me some of the trouble by reminding me that banking follows a historic pattern of other mature industries (e.g. dealing with excess capacity; which, as a consequence, leads to fierce competition for business). My big takeaway from our conversation: price, not customer service, proves the ultimate differentiator.
- Finally, as John and I talked about what bankers might learn based on the commoditization of businesses, I couldn’t help but think about M&A and organic growth. This leads me to my third point. The Washington Business Journal recently recognized the top 5 D.C.-area banks based on total return on assets. In the piece, authored by Bryant Ruiz Switzky, the area’s 37 local banks posted a median annual profit of $3.5 million in 2012. That’s up 44% from 2011. Yes, many rankings like this focus on growth in terms of ROA; personally, I’m also keen to look at earnings growth. Nonetheless, some strong banks on this list… with many more making some real strides here in our Nation’s Capital.
As a bonus, a tip of the cap to an American Banker piece on the hows and whys BankUnited’s private-equity backers are giving up a big chunk of their stakes in the $12.2 billion-asset bank. While a subscription is required to read yesterday’s “BankUnited to Strengthen M&A Buying Power After Stock Offering,” I think its worth considering the short and longer-term views on what reduced private-equity interest might mean to a bank like this one.
Aloha Friday to all!