Banks’ Bad Loan Provisions, Housing Market Fears: US Earnings Week Ahead

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Banks’ Bad Loan Provisions, Housing Market Fears: US Earnings Week Ahead
Credit: © Reuters.

(Bloomberg) -- The major US banks will set the stage for a new year fraught with economic fears and a new earnings season when they deliver fourth-quarter results starting Friday. As recession has increasingly become a question of “when” not “if”, investors will focus on the financial institutions’ outlooks, particularly the level of bad loan provisions they set aside as they brace for worsening economic conditions in the US. Consensus estimates show investment banking may continue to suffer before rebounding mid-year, while leaving questions of whether consumer spending can help prop up results as it has shown signs of moderation.

The Federal Reserve’s rate hikes have been a double-edged sword for corporate earnings — likely setting record net interest income at most banks for another quarter, but hurting lenders and firms tied to the housing markets, also due to report this week, with performance linked to mortgage rates and home demand.

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Earnings highlights to look for this week:

Monday: Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI US) delivered estimate-beating results for another quarter, though revenue expansion was the slowest in nearly two years. The producer of indoor and outdoor lighting holds a conference call at 8 a.m. New York time, when investors will likely listen for insights into non-residential construction, as Bloomberg Intelligence and Cowen warned of “weaker” and “moderating” appetite in the end market. 

Jefferies (NYSE: JEF ), due after the closing bell, will be one of the first financial companies to report earnings this season.

Tuesday: Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY US) will post its full earnings report before the opening bell, a spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg. The Union, N.J.-based company warned last week that it may need to file for bankruptcy, alongside releasing preliminary results for the fiscal third quarter that missed Wall Street consensus. The troubled home goods retailer said it’s also pursuing an array of strategic alternatives including debt restructuring and asset sales, although adding that these measures may not materialize. An earnings call is scheduled to take place later that morning at 8:15 a.m. in New York.

Wednesday: KB Home (NYSE: KBH US) is due after the close. Rising mortgage rates and supply disruptions continue to cast a shadow over the home builder, in spite of its focus on first-time and affordable homes that are still favored by potential buyers. For the fourth-quarter, Bloomberg consensus projects a second quarter of double-digit order declines. Wedbush analysts wrote that investors will tune into the earnings call for updates on supply snarls, cycle times and how quickly the home builder can resell canceled homes. 

Thursday: No major earnings scheduled.

Friday: JPMorgan is due before market opens. The bank last month said it anticipates 4Q trading revenue may rise about 10% from a year ago on continued strong performance in macro — analysts are calling for a slightly better 11% boost — and that expenses and net interest income could be “a little better” than it had earlier expected. Investors will also be watching for an indication of the scale of buybacks after CEO Jamie Dimon said he hoped to resume payouts early this year. 

Analysts are expecting the bank to set aside the most provisions to cover bad loans in a quarter since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, a reflection of its preparation for potential economic shocks. A similar trend can be seen at other major banks — including Citigroup and Bank of America, also both reporting premarket — as increasing reserves cut into the bottom line, and further into bankers’ bonuses and adding to layoffs. 

Wells Fargo is due premarket. Investor focus will be on the firm’s ability to hold its gain in market share after it scored a top-10 deal adviser spot for the first time last year as it ramps up its investment-banking ambitions and reduces reliance on the mortgage business. Profit and returns could move higher as the lender progresses from the fallout of its regulatory woes, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, although those legacy risks will continue to erode the bottom line as the removal of the Fed’s constraint on its balance-sheet size remains uncertain.

© Bloomberg. An office worker enters the JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 22, 2021. After a year of Zoom meetings and awkward virtual happy hours, New York's youngest aspiring financiers have returned to the offices of the city's investment banks, where they're making the most of the in-person mentoring and networking they've lacked during the pandemic. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

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