Morgan Stanley is very bullish on OCBC and neutral on UOB. It ignores DBS.
Why Overweight OCBC: Our analysis shows that OCBC is more geared to upside from improved global sentiment than UOB is. In particular, it is likely to benefit sooner from improved capital markets revenues, given its greater exposure (23% of total revenues, compared with 13% for UOB) and its reliance on wholesale and private banking rather than mass affluent wealth management. In addition, as a more geared bank, it would benefit more from falling risk premia for banks.
In addition, OCBC’s greater overseas contribution and stronger growth track record give us more comfort in our higher growth forecasts for this stock.
Catalysts aplenty: We see many possible triggers for a rerating. These include an improving global economic outlook(more in line with Morgan Stanley estimates) or a lift in rates. Also, the 3Q results, due on October 29 for UOB and on November1 for OCBC, could act as a catalyst if the rate of margin compression seen in Q210 eases, or if the weak 2Q trading profit trends are reversed.
The main risk to our relative call would be rising leverage premia for banks, putting more pressure on levered OCBC, or a share buyback from UOB, which we estimate has the potential to raise its valuation by 15%. However, with UOB’s management keen to hold on to capital, the latter looks unlikely, and we believe OCBC’s higher growth offers better probability of returns.
I never realised that OCBC had the weaker capital base. But then by global standards it is overcapitalised. MAS never bot into into the view that banks don’t need capital if they are well managed.