Bank Carnage Defies Profit Forecast as Brazil Stock Rout Worsens

Updated on

Brazil’s biggest banks are trading at the cheapest levels in three years compared with the Ibovespa, even as analysts boost their earnings estimates.

Itau Unibanco Holding SA and Banco Bradesco SA posted the worst weekly declines since May as the stock gauge slumped. Their valuation discount to the equity index is now wider than 40 percent. Meanwhile, analysts covering the lenders have lifted their earnings estimates by at least 9 percent this year.

While earnings for financial institutions surged by an average 23 percent in the first quarter, the stocks have been tumbling since President Dilma Rousseff boosted taxes on the industry’s profits in May. The rout has accelerated on concern borrowing costs will climb should Brazil lose its investment-grade status amid government hurdles in shoring up the budget as the nation is set for the worst recession in 25 years.

“The scenario is becoming more challenging for banks,” Rafael Ohmachi, an analyst at brokerage Guide Investimentos, said in a phone interview from Sao Paulo. “Lenders were among those which benefited the most after Brazil got its investment grade as they were able to raise cash at lower rates. So, they could really suffer if the opposite happens.”

The Ibovespa fell 1.1 percent on Friday to 49,245.85 at the close of trading in Sao Paulo, as Itau capped the longest slide in almost two years. The stock gauge dropped for a sixth day, extending its biggest weekly decline this year. The real sank 2.1 percent to 3.3551 per dollar, the lowest since 2003.

Morgan Stanley

The Ibovespa also fell after Morgan Stanley cut its recommendation for Brazilian equities to the equivalent of sell, citing this week’s cut in the target for the budget surplus before interest payments. The “poor fiscal performance should limit the pace of economic growth,” analysts led by Guilherme Paiva wrote in a report to clients.

Brazil’s stocks had entered a bull market in April, after rallying more than 20 percent from this year’s low, amid speculation that government measures would help Brazil stave off another downgrade after Standard & Poor’s cut the country’s rating to the cusp of junk in March 2014. Since then, the shares have dropped 13 percent on concern that Congress opposition to Rousseff’s belt-tightening agenda would make the administration’s goals harder to achieve.

Moody’s Investors Service, which met with officials in Brazil last week, has a negative outlook on the country’s Baa2 rating, the second-lowest level of investment grade.

Largest Banks

Itau, Latin America’s largest bank by assets, extended a six-day plunge to 8 percent. Bradesco slid 7 percent this week.

Vale SA, the biggest iron-ore miner, declined to the lowest in a decade after Citigroup Inc. said the best trade at present is to wager on further losses in the steelmaking ingredient. The shares also dropped after a gauge of manufacturing in Brazil’s top trading partner unexpectedly fell.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the state-controlled oil producer at the center of Brazil’s worst corruption scandal, slid as a drop in crude dimmed the outlook for the company. Petrobras has said its investments in offshore production are economically viable with the commodity above $45.

Embraer SA, which gets most of its revenue from abroad, gained as the weakening real improved the planemaker’s earnings prospects. Pulp producer Fibria Celulose SA, another exporter, rallied to the highest level this month.

Trading volume of equities in Sao Paulo was 7.01 billion reais ($2.1 billion), data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with a daily average of 6.72 billion reais this year, according to the exchange.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE