Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF) is a bank holding company that operates throughout the South and Midwest. Regions competes against other Southern-based banks like SunTrust Banks (STI) and BB&T (BBT), as well as larger, national banks such as Bank of America (BAC). Although its competitors have rebounded, RF is still suffering from the Financial Crisis.
Like its competitors, RF was hit hard by the Credit Crunch and the Financial Crisis, as the bank lost $1 billion in 2009. Regions received a capital injection from the US government via the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). The TARP funding did cause RF to partake in the stress tests, which results showed that the bank could lose $9.2 billion in loans in the next two years. Unlike its non-regional, larger competitors, being a regional bank has handicapped RF to raise capital organically -- without the help of outside investors. RF has even considered divesting its Morgan Keegan investment business, which has been the top brokerage in the past five years. On top of RF's struggling portfolio, the bank has also had legal troubles made public on July 21st, 2009. Regions was sued by the SEC for not disclosing information to their clients and has a class action suit for charging hidden fees at their ATMs.
As a bank holding company, Regions makes money using corporate banking products such as investment banking as well as retail banking products such as ATM fees. Regions has more than 1,900 banking offices and 2,400 ATM locations. Regions is classified as a regional bank -- a bank that is prevalent in one geographic area, but lacks market share in other geographic locations. Regions is mainly located in the South; 51% of its branches are located in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Regions Financial is the 12th largest bank in the U.S. by assets. Being a regional bank, RF competes with larger, national banks as well as other regional banks in the Southeast for clients.
The General Banking segment provides commercial, retail, and mortgage banking products. RF's banking subsidiary, Regions Bank, is centered in Alabama and has other locations in the South and Midwest United States. The breakdown of locations is:
The Investment Banking segment provides brokerage and trust products, including asset management and fixed income and equity capital markets. MSN Money considers Regions Financial's Morgan Keegan brand as one of the top equity research firms in the past seven years. According to The Financial Times, four of Morgan Keegan's analysts are ranked #1 in their respective industries. In addition, Morgan Keegan analysts have been featured in the Wall Street Journal's Best on the Street survey in 13 of the past 15 years.
The Insurance segment provides health, casualty, property, life, and accident insurance. The segment offers other insurance products such as credit life, environmental,crop, and mortgage insurance.
To repair losses from the 2008 Financial Crisis, RF was given $3.5 billion in TARP funding to help cover its $5.6 billion loss in 2008. After receiving the TARP funding, RF was one of 10 banks required to raise capital from the stress tests. Results from the stress test showed that RF might incur $9.2 billion in loan losses in the next two years, and that the bank would have to raise $2.5 billion to avoid becoming nationalized. This disadvantage was apparent during the stress tests, as RF was not big enough to raise capital without selling shares or assets. In comparison, larger Money Center Banks can raise capital from outside investors due to having a stronger network and investor report. Being a smaller, regional bank is one reason RF is still struggling after the crisis.
After the stress test results, Regions is also trying to remove risky assets from its portfolio. RF was not able to hedge it's Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) risk, such as residential homebuilder loans, Florida home equity loans and condominium loans.
In July 2009, RF has been under public scrutiny for unlawfully holding information from its clients. When risk in auction rate securities surged in early 2008, Regions failed to make their clients aware that markets would become illiquid in the future,and the bank told brokers to accelerate selling until the ARS market froze in February 2008. As a result of their actions, the bank's clients lost a combined $1.2 billion. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is suing RF to pay back its clients and pay an additional fine. Since the lawsuit, RF has repurchased $56 million of the ARS from customers. In addition to the SEC case, RF is under investigation for charging a $3 hidden fee to non-clients at ATMs. The lawsuits has come at a bad time for Regions, who is still struggling to clean its Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) portfolio.
In the Banking sector, Regions Financial will have to continue playing catch-up from it's billion-dollar losses in 2008. RF's competitors, including large investment banks and retail banks, were not hit as hard as RF and have generally recovered from the crisis. The bank concentrates its efforts in the Southeast, where it has 20.7% market share in that region.