The Bank of Spain’s (BoS) Financial Stability Report usually puts its finger on the problem when it highlights the main risks affecting the banking business. As well as low interest rates and the deterioriation in both Spanish and global economic prospects, the BoS’ latest report points to another factor which has not warranted so much attention: the decline in the prices of financial assets, both in fixed income securities and equities.
Articles by Francisco López
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Telefonica’s stock price held up much better than expected after the multinational announced it will cut its dividend this year and next. The shares finally closed down 1% after falling as much as 4% in the first few hours of the session. It seems that investors have understood that, on the one hand, it is the company’s best option for reducing debt; and, on the other, that the dividend yield is still very attractive.
The recovery in long-term public debt in the last two weeks has not gone unnoticed in the markets. Investors sense there is a series of factors which could drive a change in trend in the fixed income market and are gradually taking positions. The German bund has returned to positive territory and Spain’s risk premium has risen by 20 basis points since the beginning of the month.
Are extremely low interest rates good or bad for the economy? Is is it true that they are seriously damaging the profitability of the banks and insurers? The debate over the suitability of the zero interest policy driven by the central banks is heating up between the monetary authorities and the financial sector.
It’s definitely not Telefónica finest hour. Problems with the possible listing of its UK affiliate O2 after the pound’s slump can be added to the fiasco with the IPO of its infrastructure subsidiary Telxius. The company is worried about having its rating cut and it doesn’t know how it can cut its massive 52 billion euros debt pile. But on Monday it returned to the debt market and successfully placed 2 billion euros in 4-year and 15-year bonds.
Francisco López | Lately, the Spanish banks are receiving a huge amount of buy recommendations from analysts. Some experts are asking whether there are some sound reasons to bet on banking stocks now, apart from the fact that the majority of their share prices are attractive.
These are not good times for IPOs. Telefónica has been obliged to cancel the IPO of its infrastructure affiliate Telxius, with the agreement of the placement banks. With the stock market listing, Telefonica had hoped to reduce its hefty debt pile of over 52 billion euros. But market pressure has forced it to backtrack. Telefónica’s shares opened down 4% on Friday. So far this year, the shares have still lost over 8%.
Banco Popular has had no other option but to take drastic measures to get itself out of a jam. The huge amount of impaired property assets on its balance sheet has forced the bank to make two capital hikes worth 5 billion euros, restructure the organisation, which includes the appointment of a new CEO and announce that it will lay off 3,000 employees and close 300 branches.
The Spanish banking sector earned 28% less in the first six months of the year, it has profitability problems and has seen almost half of its stock market value wiped off in the last two years. But there are two indicators which inspire optimism in the medium-term: bad loans continue to fall and there has been a strong rise in consumer credit as well as in lending to non-property companies.
There has been a lot of song and dance about extending the ‘Junker Plan’ to promote investments of up to 630 billion euros over the next six years. But the fact is that, up to now, projects worth 116 billion euros have been approved under the auspices of the Plan, according to the European Commission (EC)’s own estimates.