Now that even the pundit brigade has confessed that crashing crude may not be the "unambiguously good" event all of them had sworn as recently as a month ago it surely would be, and stocks are beginning to comprehend that plunging oil may well be rather "unambiguously bad" because without EPS growth (energy is well over 10% of S&P EPS), without multiple expansion (rumor has it the Fed will hike this year), without a jump in stock buybacks (energy companies account for 30% of the buyback growth in 2015 according to Goldman) and without a boost to GDP (energy capex plans are imploding), the only way is down. But there was one key element missing from the "bad" scenario: impaired banks. At least until now, because as Reuters reports, Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered is the first (of many) bank facing billions in losses resulting from the crude crash.
The bank, which recently has been on a firing spree and even exited its entire equity business, will likely need $4.4 billion of extra provisions to cover losses from commodities loans, potentially forcing it to raise billions of dollars from investors, analysts said on Monday.
Credit Suisse analysts said the losses could force Standard Chartered to raise $6.9 billion to improve its core capital ratio to 11 percent by the end of the year. "We think the needed provisioning could be large enough to require further capital measures, such as further equity raising, and/or dividend reductions," analyst Carla Antunes-Silva said in a note.
Standard Chartered's shares were down 2.3 percent at 923 pence by 1330 GMT, the weakest major European bank.
There were previous hints, completely ignored by the markets of course, that things at this China-heavy bank are going from bad to worse: a jump in Standard Chartered's bad debts in the third quarter has prompted concern that it could face heavy losses from commodities loans after the fall in the price of oil and commodities.
The loss could be lower...
Credit Suisse's estimate was based on an "adverse" scenario that would see the bank need $4.4 billion to maintain its capital ratio, based on a potential $2.6 billion of pretax provisioning for commodities loans that sour and a higher risk-weighting on the loans.
Then again, considering that the "adverse" scenario in the ECB stress case didn't even consider the current deflationary environment, the loss could be far higher. Which means capital raises are on deck, and logically Credit Suisse said the bank could announce a rights issue or cut the dividend at its 2014 results, due on March 4.
"We believe the last two years of de-rating have been driven largely by weaker revenue and that the asset quality deterioration leg is now setting in," said Credit Suisse, maintaining its "underperform" rating on the stock. Analysts at JPMorgan and Jefferies also cut their target prices on the stock on Monday, saying that credit quality could deteriorate.
Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands is under pressure after a troubled two years in which profits have fallen, halting a decade of record earnings. Some investors have said that Sands should go or the bank should set out succession plans.
One down: many more to go. Hopefully equity investors are as generous to all those other banks who will be stunned to learn they, too, need billions more in capital.