CHICAGO, Aug. 31, 2012 /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 Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE:C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT).
Get the most recent insight from Zacks Equity Research with the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5513
Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:
BofA Trails in Loan Refinancing
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) failed to complete a large number of mortgage modifications under the $25 billion settlement deal. This was stated in a report presented by the official, scrutinizing the foreclosure settlement agreement between the U.S. government and some of the nation's largest banks.
This report analyzed the performance of the banks for the first time after the deal was inked in March 2012. Under the settlement deal, the five banking biggies – BofA, Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE:C), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) and Ally Financial Inc. – are required to provide around $20 billion of relief to homeowners on the verge of eviction. These banks will be needed to reduce loan balances for struggling borrowers and refinance the loans for customers whose homes are worth less than the value of their mortgages.
The report states that the five banks have provided nearly $10.6 billion in relief during the period of March 1 to June 30. This has served an average of $77,000 to about 137,000 customers.
Out of $10.6 billion, approximately $8.7 billion have been contributed via short sales with BofA leading the way with $4.8 billion of short sales. Now, short sales refer to vending of homes by owners for a value lesser than the mortgage amount.
However, BofA is falling behind in the mortgage modification process as it is consuming more time to underwrite the modified loans. The company had presented $2 billion in first-lien mortgage modification trial offers and has about $803 million in trial offers in process. In comparison, JPMorgan has concluded first lien modifications worth $367 million, an amount half of its required modifications.
Moreover, BofA has not been able to finish its share of refinancing up to June 30. The company has executed $54.2 million in second-mortgage modifications, which are home equity loans.
Taking into consideration all the types of relief extended by the banks, BofA tops the list with $4.9 billion in aid, followed by JPMorgan with $3 billion, Wells Fargo with $1 billion, Citigroup with $873.4 million and Ally Financial with $755.8 million. Though the amount totals more than $10 billion, the banks are not yet midway to achieve their goals as settlement provides limited credit for certain category of assistance.
Though the settlement deal came as a big relief for the banks, they are required to meet the targeted commitments or pay fines instead. If BofA and four other banks are not able to meet the targeted modification commitments over a period of three years, they could face penalties of 125–140% of the deficit. These banks are required to complete 75% of the commitments by the end 2014 and the remaining in the next 12 months.
Though BofA has topped the short sales count, modification of the loans constitutes a bulk of the assistance to be provided to consumers. Therefore, it will be better for BofA to step up its efforts to accelerate its modification process as soon as possible. Otherwise, it can lead to huge financial implications.
BofA currently retains its Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. Considering the fundamentals, we maintain a long term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
Starwood's Aloft Debuts in Carolina
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) recently announced the opening of its first hotel – Aloft Asheville Downtown – under its Aloft brand in Asheville, North Carolina. The hotel, which marked the 60th worldwide opening of Starwood Aloft, will be managed by McKibbon Hotel Group, Inc.
Asheville, the 11th largest city of North Carolina, is the county seat of Buncombe County. The city enjoys excellent urban infrastructure and is conveniently linked to major interstate highways and an airport. The diverse architectural background and exotic scenic beauty of the city has been a major enticement for leisure and business travelers.
Strategically located in Biltmore Avenue, Aloft Asheville Downtown hotel is in close proximity to major tourist spots of the city. These include Asheville Art Museum, Biltmore Estate and Asheville Mall. A concept of urban and cultural fusion at the hotel aims to cater to modern travelers seeking a unique experience.
Starwood has set a new trend in hotel designs with one of its lifestyle brands Aloft. The brand aims to attract tech-savvy, next-generation customers. Aloft has spread its operations globally with around 60 hotel openings since its launch in June 2008.
The Aloft brand is currently on a high growth trajectory and has left its mark in the main regions of North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia and China.
Want more from Zacks Equity Research? Subscribe to the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5515.
About Zacks Equity Research
Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.
Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.
Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5517
Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leon Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at http://at.zacks.com/?id=5518.
Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zacksresearch
Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts
Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.
SOURCE Zacks Investment Research, Inc.