TEXT-S&P: Regions Financial Corp ratings unaffected by results
Oct 23 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said its ratings and outlook on Regions Financial Corp. (BBB-/Stable/A-3) are not affected by the company's third-quarter results, which we view as mixed but only slightly below our expectations. Regions reported net income of $312 million from continuing operations, up from $280 million in the second quarter. Pretax, preprovision income declined modestly from the previous quarter, largely because of a lower net interest margin (NIM) and higher noninterest expenses. Specifically, the NIM fell by 8 basis points from the second quarter to 3.08%, comparable to the declines many other large regional banks experienced. We expect that the NIM could decline further in 2013, although lower deposit costs in the near term should mitigate the decline. Loan loss provisions were very low and reserve releases were again substantial, but we expect loan loss provisions to rebound toward a more normal level in 2013. Credit quality was mixed, in our view. Nonaccrual loans, restructured loans, and Business Services criticized loans declined, but inflows of nonperforming loans rose by $148 million from the second quarter, and net charge-offs were comparable to levels experienced in the second quarter. Our assessment of Regions' risk position remains "moderate" given the still-high total nonperforming assets (NPAs), which include a large amount of restructured loans, based on our calculations. We expect credit quality to improve in 2013 and 2014, but we think it could be gradual given the bank's very large exposures in the southeast. Loan balances declined again sequentially, largely because of further declines in investor commercial real estate (CRE) loan balances, a trend we expect to continue. Capital ratios continued to improve in the third quarter because of earnings retention and a contraction in earning assets. Our assessment of the company's capital and earnings is "adequate," largely based on our projected risk-adjusted capital (RAC) ratio for the company. We expect the ratio to approach nearly 10% by the end of 2013. Despite mixed results in the third quarter, the outlook is stable because we expect financial performance to improve only gradually over the next two years. Standard & Poor's, a part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP), is the world's foremost provider of credit ratings. With offices in 23 countries, Standard & Poor's is an important part of the world's financial infrastructure and has played a leading role for 150 years in providing investors with information and independent benchmarks for their investment and financial decisions.