TEXT-S&P comments on Comerica
Oct 17 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said its ratings and outlook on Comerica Inc. (A-/Stable/A-2) are not affected by the company's third-quarter results, which were generally consistent with our expectations. Net income rose to $117 million from $98 million in third-quarter 2011, partly as a result of lower noninterest expenses and lower provisions for loan losses, although both metrics rose sequentially. However, weighing on results, the net interest margin declined a substantial 22 basis points year over year to 2.96%, and we expect further compression in 2013, given increasing competition and the reinvestment of maturing securities at lower rates. Credit quality continued to improve, which the sequential decline in nonperforming loans and the net charge-off ratio demonstrates. We expect some further improvement in the near term given the sequential declines in accruing watch-list loans and loans 90 days or more past due. Positively, loan balances and customer deposits rose again, which we think could continue into next year, given that we expect the local economy in Texas to remain strong. However, the tangible common equity ratio and Tier 1 capital ratio both declined from the previous quarter and year over year, largely because of growth in loan balances, common dividends, and share repurchases. We are unlikely to upgrade Comerica given the large commercial concentrations within the bank's loan portfolio and management's strategy of aggressively returning earnings to common shareholders.