Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Richard, I have a Bove to pick with you!

Who is this guy Richard Bove from Punk Zeigel?  Better yet, who is Punk Zeigel?  I had never heard of this guy or his firm until a few months ago when he came out with an upgrade of Goldman Sachs claiming they had "superior technology" and therefore could never lose a penny in the market.  About a week later when it became clear that all the investment banks were getting the beatdown, he turned around and downgraded Goldman Sachs.  Both times he was on CNBC chirping about his analysis as if it was news.  He came out today with a downgrade of Bear Stearns, and revised downward his earnings estimates for Bear (note that Bear is down oh, about 60% from its highs).  First, let's just be clear about one thing, nobody and I mean nobody has any idea what the investment banks are going to report this quarter.  It is impossible to forecast.  Although a portion of their earnings comes from fee-based businesses, they are all in the business of proprietary trading.  Unless you know their trading positions, which banks would NEVER disclose to a two-bit analyst, you have no idea if they are going to lose $10 a share or break even.  You can't rely on their balance sheets from year end because all of their trading positions, liquidity needs, and hedges are totally different than they were 3 months ago.  In fact, given that most of the less liquid securities have ceased trading, the banks themselves really have no idea how much money they made.  But given all of the above, I'd like to throw my hat in the ring...I predict that Bear loses $6 a share, Lehman $3, MS breaks even, and GS loses $1.  These are all completely random predictions, but if I'm right then maybe, just maybe CNBC will call me for a comment the next time brokerage earnings are imminent.  I guarantee that what I have to say will be slightly less moronic than Mr. Bove's drivel from the past few months.

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