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Watch These Stocks at Goldman’s Financial Services Conference

Wednesday - 12/5/2012, 12:51pm  ET

Goldman Sachs is holding its annual Financial Services Conference on Tuesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 5 in New York City. The financial services industry is vitally important for market participants to follow as these companies have a continuous view into the health of our nation’s businesses and consumers. Recent economic data indicates that loan growth accelerated during the calendar third quarter, and while large banks experienced a median loan growth rate of 3.27 percent, smaller banks excelled as the average loan growth rate in the banking industry exceeded 7 percent. This indicates to me that the larger banks in the industry continue to be hampered by difficult operating conditions amid the new regulatory environment. It will be difficult for the U.S. economy to fully recover without participation from these Companies presenting, so I would encourage investors to take a careful listen.

American Express Tuesday at 2:10 p.m.; The Company known for its namesake card payments division reported Third Quarter earnings on October 17, exactly meeting consensus earnings estimates of $1.09 per share, however revenue came in weaker than expected at $7.9 billion vs. $7.93 billion estimates. While on paper the revenue miss may seem insignificant, CEO Kenneth Chenault spoke extensively about “rigorous cost containment” during the conference call, a sign that the Company may be concerned about further declines in its top line numbers. American Express also announced in early October that it was entering the prepaid debit card market in conjunction with Wal-Mart. It appears AXP is interested in broadening its reach, as the Company has traditionally focused on the high-end consumer.

BB&T Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.; The Winston-Salem, North Carolina based regional lender recently stated it would emphasize dividend payments over stock buybacks for its shareholders, based on a request from the Federal Reserve Board’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). This is positive news for investors and I am hopeful of hearing similar messages from its competitors also presenting at this week’s conference. BB&T has stated it expects average total loan growth between 5 percent and 7 percent during the calendar fourth quarter, higher than the industry average for large banks. Chairman and CEO Kelly King is presenting.

Citigroup Wednesday at 12:35 p.m.; Shareholders of the global financial services company have encountered a rough patch in the last three months, beginning with Vikram Pandit’s surprising resignation as CEO on October 16. The news of Pandit’s departure came literally hours after the Company reported Third Quarter earnings, the timing of which was viewed poorly by the Street and served as yet another factor to undermine retail investor confidence during 2012. The situation at Citigroup still appears unstable, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported that new CEO Michael Corbat is in an “akward spot” given Pandit’s departure, and that a power struggle exists between Corbat and Citi Chairman Mike O’Neill. CFO John Gerspach will be presenting at the Goldman conference.

Hartford Financial Services Group Wednesday at 11:40 a.m.; It has been a busy year for the Hartford, which has been divesting businesses in an effort to unlock value. The Company sold its broker-dealer unit to AIG in July and exited the individual life insurance business in September, selling to Prudential. Investors will also be looking to get a possible update on insurance claims related to Hurricane Sandy. In other news, the New York Times published an article on November 29 titled “Experts Fear Life Insurers Are Courting Risk,” stating that regulators are concerned major insurers could be using off-balance-sheet transactions to circumvent proper risk controls. Chairman, President, and CEO Liam McGee will be presenting at this week’s Goldman conference.

Several CEOs presenting at the Goldman conference are members of the Fiscal Leadership Council for the "Campaign to Fix the Debt," the well-publicized effort aimed to get business leaders working with Congress and President Obama to get ahead of the fiscal cliff. Inquiring readers may download a complete agenda for the two-day conference here.

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