We’re wrapping up Q3 earnings, and investors are starting to focus on Q4 happenings – which may cause some anxiety, considering recent history. Last year, Q4 saw a 9% collapse in the S&P 500, the worst market drop since the Great Depression. Michael Wilson, equity strategist with Morgan Stanley, sees a definite possibility for a repeat, especially in light of the ongoing US-China trade war: “The bottom line is that without a significant roll-back of existing tariffs, we don’t see [a change in] the currently negative trajectory of growth in both the economy and earnings.”
If Wilson is right, then now may be time to sort the grain from the chaff in your portfolio. Here’s one of the stocks that is getting the attention of sell-side analysts.
Webster Financial Corporation (WBS)
New England-based Webster is a holding company, owning Webster Bank along with related insurance, lending, and finance companies and assets. The company’s largest segment, Webster Bank, has 177 branches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, as well as the adjacent Westchester County, New York. Webster Bank provides both business and consumer services in banking, mortgages, financial planning, and investments.
In its Q3 2019 earnings release, WBS reported a 2.6% revenue increase, to $310.5 million, as well as growth in loan business to $1.2 billion and account deposit growth of 5.8% to $1.3 billion. Despite the good news, however, there was a slip in EPS from $1.06 last year to $1.00 in the current quarter. Along with the EPS slip, WBS shares are down 2.41% year-to-date.
This stock’s shaky situation has Stephens analyst Matthew Breese decidedly bearish. In his recent report on WBS, Breese wrote, “As one of the most asset sensitive banks in the Northeast, we believe Webster has a challenging 12-18 months ahead… Considering how WBS is set up for the current interest rate environment… we believe anticipated margin pressure is enough for the stock to underperform.”
Breese gives this stock a Sell rating along with a $42 price target, indicating his belief that it will show a considerable downside, 12%, in the coming year.
Looking at the TipRanks’ stock analysis on WBS, we find that the stock is negative on both the technical and fundamental indicators. The 20-day moving average is lower than the 200-day, a sign that the stock is trending down, while the stock’s asset growth is a low 9.32%. Also important to note, insider activity on this stock is decidedly negative, with insiders unloading more than $200,000 worth of WBS shares in the last three months.
Breese is more bearish than most on WBS. The analyst consensus here is a Hold, based on 3 Holds and 1 Sell set in the last three months. The stock is trading for $48, and the $46.67 average price target implies a 3% downside.