信用卡公司:未来的希望?
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2008-05-23 12:04:10  【打印
The quickest way to pay top dollar for something you don't need is to make an impulse buy on your credit card. Investors eyeing shares in credit-card companies as a quick way to profit from an economic recovery should also resist the temptation to buy right now.

A growing feeling that stand-alone credit-card lenders will weather the economic slowdown has started to lift shares in firms like American Express Co., Discover Financial Services and Capital One Financial Corp.

But recent credit-card data indicate that none of the big card companies -- including the large card units at banks like Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. -- are in the clear. Rising defaults could weigh on earnings for longer than expected.

Since the credit crisis began, investors have expected rising charge-offs -- the term given for losses caused by defaults -- at credit-card companies. Two big negatives were identified: Job losses and, for many borrowers, a sharply reduced ability to use home-equity loans to pay off more expensive card balances.

Credit did deteriorate. Moody's Investors Service reports that, for the card lenders it tracks, the annualized charge-off rate -- which measures defaults as a percentage of loans outstanding -- rose to 6.05% in March from 4.64% a year earlier. The charge-off rate peaked at just over 7% during the 1991 and 2001 recessions, according to Moody's.

Credit-card bulls -- believing that a recession may be avoided -- think charge-offs won't go to recession highs. If so, firms like Capital One could look forward to sharply higher earnings as lower defaults would allow lenders to ease off on the expense of building their loan-loss reserves.

But two key data points indicate defaults climbing higher, not falling fast.

First, card borrowers are starting to pay back less of their outstanding balances each month. Analysts at Oppenheimer & Co. say that a sustained decline in the amount borrowers repay each month, compared with a year-earlier, can be a leading indicator that borrowers will start to fall behind on payments.

Oppenheimer calculates that, for the companies it covers, borrowers paid back 19% of their balance on average in April, down from 19.7% in the year-earlier period. American Express's borrowers paid down 23.8% of their balances in April, down from 25% a year ago, according to Oppenheimer. Conversely, Capital One borrowers paid down 18.5% of their balances last month, up from 17.6% a year earlier.

Also worrisome are data from Moody's suggesting that borrowers are finding it harder to become current on credit-card loans once they fall behind. The ratings firm notes that the amount of loans on which borrowers have skipped three or more payments has started to rise more quickly than loans that have missed one or two. Once borrowers are three payments behind, fewer of them ever catch up.

Federal Reserve data say revolving credit outstanding -- which tracks credit-card balances -- increased 6.7% in the first quarter, compared with the year-earlier period. Borrowers are taking on more debt to support spending through the slowdown. It's a gamble for card companies to lend more to people who are turning to relatively expensive debt because they're cash strapped.

And it's a bad bet for investors to load up on the card companies taking that gamble.

Envious EADS Should

Clean Own House First

When the chief executive of Italian defense contractor Finmeccanica said there could be a rival bidder for DRS Technologies, everyone knew he was talking about EADS, also known as European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

They knew and they didn't like it. Investors quickly sold off shares in EADS, the maker of Airbus jets. Though the stock recovered, it was clear that investors are worried that EADS might make a mess of the acquisition of the American defense contractor.

The biggest issue for EADS is that it already has a lot on its plate. After all, EADS has found it hard to pull existing assets together successfully. Management is struggling to get Airbus back on track after cost overruns and delays with its new jetliners.

Indeed, worries about Airbus might be why EADS is considering a bid. EADS shares are down by a fourth over the past year, in part because of operational problems at Airbus and because of worries about the commercial aircraft industry. Buying a defense contractor would lower EADS's exposure to that industry.

If EADS is envious of Finmeccanica, or other big defense consolidators, it should clean up its own house before it goes shopping.

使用信用卡消费最容易使人们冲动之下花大价钱买下自己并不需要的东西。而对于那些瞄准信用卡类股希望藉此能从经济复苏中快速获利的投资者来说,眼下或许也应该抵挡住购买此类股票的诱惑。

越来越多的人认为,单纯从事信用卡贷款的公司能够经得住经济增长放缓的考验。这种人气开始提振美国运通公司(American Express Co.) 、Discover Financial Services和Capital One Financial Corp.等公司的股价。

但是最近的信用卡数据显示,在包括美国银行(Bank of America Corp.)、花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)和摩根大通公司(JPMorgan Chase & Co.)的信用卡子公司在内的大型信用卡公司中,没有一家在信用危机中安然无恙。不断上升的违约率对公司收益的负面影响可能要比人们预期的时间更长。

自从信贷危机爆发以来,投资者就预计信用卡公司无法收回的贷款将不断增加。他们找到了支持这个观点的两大负面因素:一是失业,二是很多借款人利用物业套现贷款来偿还高利率信用卡贷款的能力大大降低。

人们的信用水平也在下降。穆迪投资者服务公司(Moody's Investors Service Inc.)报告显示,在它所跟踪的信用卡放贷机构中,3月份坏帐冲销率折合成年率--即所发放贷款的违约率--上升至6.05%,上年同期为4.64%。据穆迪的数据,在1991年和2001年的经济衰退期间,坏帐冲销率达到了略高于7%的高点。

看好信用卡类股的人士相信,美国经济这次会免于落入衰退的境地,他们认为坏帐冲销率不会达到经济衰退时期的水平。果真如此的话,那么Capital One等公司的收益预计将大幅上升,因为较低的违约率可以减轻信用卡贷款发放公司在提取贷款损失准备金方面的压力。

但是,有两个关键数据表明违约率在不断攀升,而不是快速下降。

首先,信用卡借款者每月实际偿还的金额不断减少。Oppenheimer & Co.的分析师表示,借款人每月还款数额较上年同期持续减少可被看作借款人开始拖延还款的领先信号。

Oppenheimer对其所跟踪公司的还款率进行了计算,今年4月借款者平均偿还了贷款余额的19%,低于上年同期的19.7%。Oppenheimer的数据还显示,美国运通的借款人4月份偿还了贷款余额的23.8%,低于上年同期的25%。而Capital One的借款人上个月的还款率是18.5%,高于上年同期的17.6%。

穆迪的数据更加令人担心:借款人一旦开始拖欠信用卡贷款,他们就无法补上还款进度。这家评级机构指出,那些拖延三笔或三笔以上还款的人他们的贷款额增长速度要快于那些拖延一笔或两笔未还的人。一旦拖欠三笔之后,很少有人还能赶上来。

美国联邦储备委员会(Federal Reserve)的数据显示,第一季度的循环贷款余额较上年同期增长了6.7%。为支撑经济减速时期的支出,借款人背上了更多的债务包袱。对于信用卡公司来说,向那些转向更高利率贷款的人提供更多借款无疑是在赌博,因为这些人在现金上已是捉襟见肘。

而对于投资者来说,买入参与这种“赌博”的公司的股票实在是压错了赌注。

EADS应该先善其身

当意大利国防承包商器械工业投资公司(Finmeccanica S.p.A)首席执行长表示,DRS Technologies可能还有其他竞购者时,大家都明白他说的是欧洲航空防务航天公司(European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co., 简称EADS)。

投资者明白这一点,但并不乐见于此。投资者很快就抛售了这家空中客车(Airbus)母公司的股票。虽然EADS股价有所反弹,但是很显然投资者仍然担心EADS会搅乱对这家美国国防承包商的收购交易。

眼下,EADS面临的最大问题就是它已经有很多问题需要应对。简言之,EADS在成功整合现有资产方面遭遇了很大困难。在新机型成本超过预算、发货日期不断延迟等问题发生后,管理层正绞尽脑汁努力使空中客车重回正轨。

事实上,对于空中客车的担忧或许恰恰是EADS考虑竞购的原因。EADS股价在过去一年中下跌了四分之一,原因之一就是空中客车在运营方面的问题,以及外界对商用飞机行业的担忧。收购一家国防承包商将会降低EADS在商用飞机行业的风险敞口。

不过,如果EADS嫉妒器械工业投资公司或其他大型国防业务公司,那么它应该先解决好自身的问题,再做收购的打算。

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