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1045 GMT [Dow Jones]--Bankia´s (BKIA.MC) quarterly earnings are encouraging, and it´s now time for Moody´s to catch up, says Roger Francis of Mizuho International. "We continue to like the recovery story at Bankia and recommend long positions across the capital structure. We recognise though, that ratings remain a handicap," he says. "S&P at least has a positive outlook at BB-, but Moody´s unsolicited B1 from over a year ago is just risible and should be ignored," he notes. Bankia´s second-quarter net profit nearly doubled compared with a year earlier as loan losses fell. Shares in the group are up 1.5%. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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July 28, 2014 06:45 ET (10:45 GMT)
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MADRID (Dow Jones)--Bankia (BKIA.MC), la plus grande banque espagnole nationalisée, a progressé pour réduire ses créances douteuses, mais elle en a encore 18,6 milliards d´euros en portefeuille, contre 20 milliards d´euros en décembre. Pour continuer à abaisser ce montant, la banque prévoit de vendre "quelques" portefeuilles de prêts au troisième ou quatrième trimestre pour un total de plus de 1 milliard d´euros. Les portefeuilles de dettes espagnoles suscitent un intérêt accru depuis quelques mois. Blackstone a notamment acheté pour 6,4 milliards d´euros de prêts hypothécaires à la banque Catalunya Banc en début de mois. L´action Bankia gagne 1,3%, à 1,47 euro.
DJ Bankia to Tap ECB Credit Program for New Lending -- Update
By Jeannette Neumann
MADRID-- Bankia SA, Spain´s largest nationalized bank and a barometer of the country´s nascent economic recovery, is likely to tap a new European Central Bank credit program aimed at accelerating lending, the bank´s chief financial officer said Monday.
CFO Leopoldo Alvear said Bankia can borrow up to EUR3 billion ($4 billion) in loans from the ECB but is still weighing whether to tap the program for that full amount.
"We think it´s a good way to try to increase credit," Mr. Alvear said at a news conference Monday to present Bankia´s second-quarter results.
On Friday, Spanish lender Caixabank SA said it would borrow EUR7 billion. The ECB´s loan program aims to spur lending to stoke a still-fragile economic recovery in the region.
Bankia, Spain´s fourth-largest bank by market capitalization, on Monday reported net profit of EUR245 million in the second quarter of this year, up from EUR126 million a year earlier. The lender said its second-quarter net interest income was EUR730 million, an increase of 26% compared with a year earlier. Both those figures beat analysts´ estimates.
Bankia´s stock was up 1.5% in early afternoon trading in Madrid.
Around 40% of Bankia´s net interest income was driven by returns from the lender´s bond portfolio, which has a yield of 2.57%, Nomura International analyst Daragh Quinn wrote in a research note on Monday.
"We believe a key challenge for Bankia will be to compensate the potential drop in the contribution of the bond portfolio over the coming 18 months," Mr. Quinn wrote.
Bankia and other major Spanish banks have booked billions of euros in trading profit in recent quarters through the so-called carry trade, when banks borrow funds cheaply from the European Central Bank and then use those funds to buy higher-yielding sovereign debt from their own governments.
Analysts expect those trading gains to diminish as the interest rates on many sovereign bonds decline. Yields on Spanish notes, for instance, are at record lows.
Bankia said its ratio of nonperforming loans--cases in which borrowers have fallen behind or defaulted on payments--to total loans fell to 14.03% in the second quarter of this year from 14.3% in the first quarter.
Overall, Spanish banks´ nonperforming loans edged down to 13.4% of total loans as of May from a record-high 13.6% in December, according to Spain´s central bank.
Bankia still has EUR18.6 billion in bad loans. Bankia Chief Executive José Sevilla said the lender plans to sell "a couple" of loan portfolios for a total of more than EUR1 billion in the third or fourth quarters, in an effort to continue to whittle away at the amount of outstanding bad loans.
Mr. Sevilla said that as of September Bankia has seen an uptick in loans under EUR1 million to small- and medium-size businesses, and expects to see growing demand from larger businesses in coming months as they make headway in shedding debt.
Consumer credit has also accelerated but the issuance of mortgage loans will continue to be muted as homeowners focus on paying off existing loans, Mr. Sevilla said.
Still, Bankia´s total loans to customers are down year-over-year, in line with other major Spanish banks that have reported in recent days.
For analysts and investors, a major question circling Bankia is when Spain will sell another stake in the lender.
Spain, through its bank-rescue fund, sold a 7.5% stake in late February but still owns 61% of Bankia.
Spain injected EUR22.4 billion of European Union funds into Bankia to shore up the lender´ finances. The bank was formed in 2010 from the merger of seven troubled regional savings banks.
Bankia executives and Spanish government officials have said the timing of the next sale depends on market conditions, without providing details. The lender´s shares were sold at EUR1.51 in February and its stock was trading at EUR1.47 in Madrid on Monday.
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