Bank stocks could jump 45% on rising bond yields and attractive relative value, Morgan Stanley says

FILE PHOTO: A sign is displayed on the Morgan Stanley building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A sign is displayed on the Morgan Stanley building in New York

  • Bank stocks could jump as much as 45% on a range of macroeconomic factors, according to Morgan Stanley.
  • “Banks have been a major beneficiary of the value rotation currently underway, with the S&P 500 Banks industry group up 19.9% YTD,” the note said.
  • Historically, bank stocks have benefitted from rising yields and a steepening curve, the note added.
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Bank stocks could jump as much as 45% on various macroeconomic factors, from a steepening yield curve to attractive relative valuation that supports the sector’s outperformance, according to Morgan Stanley.

In a note published on Wednesday, the bank listed five factors that could drive the cohort higher, especially on the expectation of a rotation to value stocks rotation continuing in the near term.

“Banks have been a major beneficiary of the value rotation currently underway, with the S&P 500 Banks industry group up 19.9% [year-to-date], outperforming the broad S&P 500 index by 15.4%,” the note, led by quantitative strategist Boris Lerner, said.

Higher rates, strong economic growth, and fiscal stimulus all contribute to the growth of support value stocks, the note said. The analysts are seeing a a 20%-45% relative upside in the base case scenario.

(1) Rising yields

Banks have historically benefitted from rising yields and a steepening curve, the note said. As yields are expected to continue going up, which will result in a steeper yield curve, bank stocks are expected to keep performing well.

(2) Attractive relative valuation

Banks trade at a significant discount to the market, the note said, and because valuations are near median levels, market valuation at this point looks relatively high. Banks are cheap relative to the market, the note said. The analysts added that the current macroeconomic environment is supportive of value stocks, which have been outperforming growth stocks since the fourth quarter of 2020.

(3) Bank earnings are set to increase

Five key factors are driving EPS growth for banks, Morgan Stanley said. They are: (1) a steepening yield curve due to rising interest rates, (2) high GDP growth, which will boost loan growth, (3) lower credit losses, (4) accelerating job growth, and (5) accelerating buybacks as earnings grow.

(4) Light positioning

Exposure to financials among equity hedge funds is at a 10-year low, Morgan Stanley said, despite the recent rally in financials stocks.

“Active long-only managers are also underweight the sector relative to passive funds,” the note said.

(5) Momentum

The recent rally in financial stocks is expected to increase the net exposure of financials within the S&P 500 from -2% to +15% in the next 3 months, the note said. “Currently, 12-month S&P 500 momentum strategies are net short financials,” the note added. “Shorter-term momentum strategies, based on 9-month or 6-month returns often lead the 12-month momentum, and these portfolios currently have financials at 15% to 23% (highest exposure relative to other sectors).”

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JPMorgan and Citi are using blockchain technology, and other banks are considering allowing clients to hold crypto in bank accounts, Bank of America research finds

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
  • Bank of America research published Tuesday shows banks like JPMorgan and Citi use blockchain technology. 
  • Other smaller banks said they are open to allowing clients to hold cryptocurrencies in the future. 
  • The research sheds on light on where traditional financial institutions stand on blockchain amid bitcoin’s massive rally.
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A research report from Bank of America shows banking behemoths JPMorgan and Citi are using blockchain technology, while other banks are considering allowing commercial and institutional clients to hold cryptocurrencies in their accounts. 

BofA analysts led by Erika Najarian compiled responses from banks they cover regarding use of blockchain technology and willingness to facilitate crypto transactions. 

They found that 21% of banks they cover have incorporated blockchain technology into their businesses in some form. Blockchain is a digital ledger and the technology used to transact with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

JPMorgan, Citi, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, PNC, Fifth Third Bank, and Signature Bank are among some of the banks that said they use blockchain.

While JPMorgan and Citi did not specify in what capacity they use blockchain technology, Wells Fargo highlighted its WFC Digital Cash platform, which allows investors to transfer accounts between Wells subsidiaries. Meanwhile Fifth Third said blockchain technology is in use “in very limited cases for sensitive information.” PNC was the first US bank to join the Ripple network. 

Meanwhile, no banks under BofA coverage are facilitating crypto transactions or allowing customers to hold crypto in accounts at this time. However, Citizens Financial Group said they are open to allowing clients to hold crypto in theory at some point, but would need to develop a robust anti-money laundering infrastructure. US Bancorp told BofA they’re “currently looking at applications of blockchain technology and crypto opportunities at the commercial bank.”  

Several banks said they are waiting for regulatory clarification on providing cryptocurrency custody services before adopting the digital currency. 

According to BofA analysts who conducted the study, the consensus among banks was that any future application of cryptocurrency would be concentrated in commercial, custody, and commercial payments rather than retail clients. 

Also, Citi is “more focused on tokenization” than facilitating cryptocurrency transactions, according to BofA, while JPMorgan is “actively assessing if they will take cryptocurrency in accounts.” 

The research sheds a light on where major financial institutions stand with regards to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency amid bitcoin’s epic rally. 

“While the future of cryptocurrencies is still oft-debated by the market, many investors view blockchain broadly as general ledger technology that is key for banks to unlock efficiencies in the future. As such, we see this wide gap in blockchain technology (and willingness to adopt it) as potentially telling of a bank’s tech investment strategy,” the analysts said. 

 

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