Bank stocks had a big week.
The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) capped off a nearly 9% weekly gain on Friday, a sign to some that the worst could be over for the beleaguered group, which has shed over 39% since the market’s Feb. 20 peak.
The KBE fell almost 4% in Friday’s trading session, but the losses weren’t enough to seriously dent its weekly performance.
To Craig Johnson, senior technical research analyst at Piper Sandler, this could mean “the damage has already been done” in the group.
“There’s been a clear head-and-shoulders top that’s been made,” Johnson told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday. The chart pattern often signals a coming sharp drop.
“But … the downside objective has already been reached,” he said. “I look at that chart and I say we’ve got a relief rally in a move back to at least $30 on the KBE index.”
The KBE closed at $27.61 on Friday.
Johnson’s top pick of the group was a stock that spent most of Friday in decline after a downgrade from Bank of America Securities: JPMorgan Chase.
JPMorgan shares closed down more than 7% on Friday, at $91.13.
“No doubt that that is a blue-chip, best-in-class stock in the financial sector, and we like being overweight these kind of big large-money-center banks in this volatile period of time,” Johnson said.
Bank of America analysts agreed the stock was “best in class,” attributing their downgrade to neutral to balance-sheet pressure JPMorgan could feel in a low-interest-rate environment.
Johnson said it appears “the damage has already been done” in JPMorgan’s stock.
“This is where I struggle a little bit with downgrading stocks that have already been beaten up. They should have downgraded it months ago, and at this point in time, I’d rather be buying the stock in here as I think there’s a solid move back toward at least 100 in this name, if not further,” he said. “So, I’d be a buyer of JPMorgan in here, … not a seller.”
Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, said the Federal Reserve’s moves to help banks and the credit market during the market’s downturn will hugely benefit the group.
“The Fed basically threw everything but the kitchen sink at the credit market and, at this point, de facto nationalized the banking system,” Schlossberg said in the same “Trading Nation” interview. “There’s almost no way you could lose money as a bank now because the Fed will buy anything and everything that is on your balance sheet, and they will also give you as much credit as you want in the repo market.”
Add in the fact that banks are largely in “better shape” than they were during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, and Schlossberg said the KBE could even outperform the S&P 500 over the next 12 months.
“It’s certainly going to have a decline in transactions because of the Main Street economy really slowing down,” he acknowledged. “It’s certainly going to have some regulatory pressures. It’s even going to have less fee income because there’ll be less transactions. But all of that aside, I think still on a relative basis, it’s going to be OK.”
“More importantly, once the virus kind of lifts … and the economy goes back to normal functioning, the Fed will still be there,” Schlossberg said. “The Fed will still be supporting the banking system. And I think that’s going to be a tremendous, tremendous tailwind for the sector, and therefore, the KBE should be a relatively strong buy on this basis.”
Disclosure: Piper Sandler has had a client relationship or has received compensation for investment banking services from JPMorgan within the past 12 months. Piper Sandler expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from JPMorgan in the next three months.It has had a client relationship and has received compensation for noninvestment banking securities related products or services in the past 12 months for JPMorgan. Piper Sandler is a registered market maker for JPMorgan.