RF’s short interest surged 13.1 million shares (27%) during the last period reported (May 15-30). This represents about 9% of the outstanding share float with cover ratio of 6.3 days. Since the last report, short interest has likely increased further given the declining share price. Short interest represents future share demand as shorts must buy shares to cover their positions.
Option investors are betting on further share declines in RF shares. On Wednesday, trading in Regions Financial's options surged to eight times the normal daily volume, as investors bought 48,000 puts and 8,000 calls. Activity was heavy in the July $10 puts, trading at 95 cents and will be in the money if RF slides below $9.05 before July 18.
It’s quite evident that investors are negative on RF. This positive aspect is that weak sellers are folding their hands and negative expectations are being priced-in. With so many investors negative, the supply of sellers begins to dry up, as the supply of future buyers increases. If future developments are not as dire as expected, then RF should see a nice bounce as short-sellers scramble to cover positions.
Capital ratios are decent- Tier 1 capital ratio is 7.3% and Total capital ratio is 11.1%. These are well above the minimum requirements of 4% and 8%. Regions book value / share is $28.82 resulting in a P/BV of 0.4x.
Thus, the selling of RF shares has been warranted, but has it been overdone? Or, is there more selling to come? Regions revenue streams are diversified with its banking, brokerage, and insurance businesses. Regions is also aggressively improving its cost structure through its merger cost reduction plan. The combination of these factors should help offset, to a degree, future write-downs and loan losses. RF has adequate capital ratios, thus it shouldn't have a major equity capital raising.