The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ocwen Financial and Berkshire Hathaway

CHICAGO, June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM-Free Report), Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC-Free Report), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC-Free Report), Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE: OCN-Free Report) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.B-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Banks Infringe on Mortgage Pact

The verdict is out. Now, banks will need to gear themselves up and follow the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) deal servicing standards more precisely.

As per the report released by Joseph A. Smith, the independent monitor overseeing the progress of NMS deal, all banks except for one have failed to comply with the new servicing regulations. Last year, major mortgage servicers – including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM-Free Report), Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC-Free Report), Ally Financial Inc. and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC-Free Report), among others – signed an agreement with 49 state attorney generals to improve their servicing standards and provide relief to distressed borrowers.

These banks were required to assess their performance under the NMS deal, with the help of 29 different metrics. Only Ally Financial, known as ResCap Parties, whose mortgage servicing is now handled by Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE: OCN-Free Report), Green Tree Servicing and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.B-Free Report), fulfilled all the criteria.

JPMorgan had problems related to its failure to remove forced-placed insurance and inability to notify borrowers about mortgage modification decisions in time. Citigroup, on the other hand, failed to clear three metrics – one requiring the dispatch of letters enclosing correct information to borrowers prior to foreclosure and the other two demanding borrowers to be informed about missing documents in time.

BofA lagged two metrics – collection of mortgage modification documents and sending of the pre-foreclosure letter. Wells Fargo also failed with regard to collection of the loan modification documents metric.

Further, roughly 60,000 complaints were received, the majority of which criticized the absence of any single point of contact for distressed borrowers.

However, the banks are striving to make amends and compensate the aggrieved borrowers. Notably, if the problems persist, the NMS deal has provisions for penalties and court actions. The banks will then be subject to penalties of up to $5 million for each unfulfilled metric.

Moreover, lapses by the banks could prevent borrowers from making timely payments, consequently causing them to lose their homes. This in turn, could lead to higher foreclosure activity.

Though the banks have failed to conform to all servicing standards, problems such as robo-signing and charging of high fees to process mortgage modifications have significantly disappeared. Additionally, the banks are providing more transparency and accountability while dealing with distressed homeowners.

Moreover, both homeowners and banks are expected to benefit from the resurgence in home prices. At the same time, banks are required to meet all the servicing standards and fulfill their deal obligations. The stabilizing housing sector, increase in jobs and low mortgage rates will likely make homeowners avoid foreclosures.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.



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