New York Community Bancorp tries to reassure investors as stock continues to wobble

New York Community Bancorp tried to reassure investors Wednesday that it is financially sound, a day after the bank’s credit rating got downgraded to “junk.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Community Bancorp tried to reassure investors Wednesday that it is financially sound, a day after the bank's credit rating got downgraded to “junk.”

Shares of NYCB recovered from steep losses earlier in the day to close with a gain of 6.7%, but are still down nearly 57% over the past week, Last Wednesday, the bank reported significant losses on some commercial real estate loans and indicated it was struggling to digest last year's purchase of Signature Bank.

“We have obviously been dealing with a very serious situation since our fourth quarter earnings release,” said Alessandro DiNello, the newly appointed executive chairman of NYCB, in a call with investors.

DiNello told investors that the bank had more than enough liquidity to cover deposits and would work quickly to sell off assets or refinance its balance sheet to meet market demands.

“The challenge today is not easy, but this company has a strong foundation, strong liquidity and a strong deposit base which gives me confidence for our path forward,” he said.

Once a relatively low profile regional lender, NYCB became a much bigger bank in 2023 when it bought most of the assets of Signature Bank. Signature was one of two banks that failed in one weekend in mid-March. The purchase of Signature pushed NYCB above $100 billion in assets, which by law puts it under more pressure from regulators.

The bank had to cut its dividend and increase its capital and liquidity ratios to meet regulators' requirements.

Coupled with the regulatory demands, investors have also had concerns about NYCB's commercial real estate portfolio. The bank reported a surprise loss of $252 million for the fourth quarter, including a provision for credit losses of $552 million, much of it tied to real estate.

Despite the market's concerns, the bank says it has seen virtually no outflow of deposits. The withdrawal of deposits was what doomed Silicon Valley Bank last year, when skittish wealthy depositors pulled their money out in the modern-day equivalent of a bank run.

The ratings agency Moody’s downgraded NYCB’s credit rating to junk status on Tuesday, citing concerns about the bank's concentration in commercial real estate as well its high amount of uninsured deposits.

“Today’s rating action reflects multi-faceted financial, risk-management and governance challenges facing NYCB,” Moody's said at the time.

In response, NYCB issued a press release saying that 72% of its deposits are insured and that it has liquidity of $37.3 billion, which exceeds uninsured deposits, or those above $250,000.

“The Moody’s downgrade is not expected to have a material impact on our contractual arrangements,” said bank CEO Thomas Cangemi.

Investors have been concerned about the banking system's holdings of commercial real estate loans for some time now, particularly among the mid-sized banks that lent heavily to commercial real estate developers before the COVID-19 pandemic. The unexpected losses in NYCB's real estate loans made some analysts worry that there might be losses at other banks with a similar size and business model as NYCB.

The KBW Regional Bank exchange traded fund, which tracks a basket of midsize banks, is down nearly 12% so far this year.