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Big US bank exposure to Italy appears ‘modest and manageable’: Jefferies

  • Jefferies believes the recent decline in financial sector shares is a good buying opportunity because major US banks do not have much exposure to Italy.
  • The firm has a buy ratings for Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase shares.
The Italian flag waves over the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy May 30, 2018.
Tony Gentile | Reuters
The Italian flag waves over the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy May 30, 2018.

Major bank stocks tumbled on Tuesday due to political turmoil in Italy, sparking worries about the prospect of another eurozone crisis.

Shares of J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup all fell 4 percent or more on Tuesday.

But Jefferies believes the decline in financial sector shares is a good buying opportunity because major US banks do not have much exposure to the European country.

"The bank tape has again become vulnerable to global sentiment swings, even for large regionals focused on the U.S. economy," analyst Ken Usdin said in a note to clients Wednesday. "Concerns on Italy/EM contagion risks and the potential for a more dovish Fed lead, with mixed company messages on the outlooks for trading and wealth/asset mgmt revs. following on. U.S. banks' Italy exposures and European rev. contributions are modest and manageable, in our view, creating opportunities to buy dips for patient investors."

Usdin said J.P. Morgan Chase had only $6.7 billion of exposure to Italy at year-end 2017, while Bank of America had $5.4 billion of exposure or $4.3 billion net of hedges, according to securities filings. He also noted Italy did not make the top 25 countries in terms of exposure for Citigroup.

"Italy exposures appear modest for the big three," he said. "We would also note that the big banks tend to actively manage down exposures as concerns arise and that these numbers could already be lower five months into the year."

Jefferies has buy ratings for Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase shares. The firm has a hold rating for Citigroup's stock.