Sunday, 25 May 2008

Whither US financials?

I am convinced that there will be a good buying opportunity for financials at some point in the Crunch. Has it arrived? It would be a brave person who was certain it had, and events of the last few weeks are curious. Consider (courtesy of Bloomberg) first two of the hardest hit large broker/dealers, Merrill and Lehman:This underperformance contrasts with the broker/dealers who seem to have higher market confidence - Morgan Stanley and Goldman - and the Bank who ate the Bear, JPM. Even Citi has not been as hard hit recently as MER and LEH:This strikes me as odd. Thain had every incentive to kitchen sink the Merrill write down, and we could easily see write ups in coming months if Merrill's prices predict lower default rates than are actually experienced. Lehman has skillfully negotiated a crisis of confidence and shown itself to be better managed than the Bear. I'm not sure I'm ready to be outright long US financial yet. But one could be tempted to consider a long in the harder hit broker/dealers vs. a short in the other two.

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