Friday, November 02, 2007

Sell-off on Citi downgrade?

Yesterday's significant sell-off in equity markets has been widely attributed to a CIBC analyst's downgrade of Citi and the suggestion that the C dividend is at risk. A factor, yes, but far from the catalyst that has been attributed to it. In fact, it's a securities analysts dream come true. Two weeks earlier on C's earnings writedowns, two other analysts also moved to a sell recommendation on the stock. The CIBC analyst was late, so what could she do to get attention to her call and cover her slow move. Hey, call for a dividend slash. That should do it. Then on the morning of the downgrade the following happens:
---A monthly government report shows that consumer spending has slowed more than expected
---Another such report shows that U.S. manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in 7 months
---Exxon reports earnings below expectations based on a "margin squeeze"(my God, says the market, this higher oil price is good for no one)

With the equity market being at toppy levels, this news would likely have led to a significant decline absent the CIBC analyst's report. With the financial sector already fragile the fortuitously timed report on Citi did unquestionably do some damage. You can bet, however, that there were high fives around the CIBC analyst shop when the economic reports and XOM's earnings hit the wire. Why not take credit. When asked after the close if she expected her report to have such impact the analyst is quoted as saying that she was the only one on Wall Street who had the "moxie" to make such a call. Oh brother.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

financials are still dropping today like a turd in my scotch. meredith whitney may be lucky, and she's playing the role of that random player that touches a nerve in the market---or is she an unwitting kissed up to tool/fool of the big hedge fund traders like SAC---was this a set-up?

4:02 PM  

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