3 Reasons to Love New York Community Bancorp

New York Community Bancorp is one of the most rock-solid banks in the market and could produce great returns for your portfolio.

Jul 13, 2014 at 10:53AM

New York Community Bancorp (NYSE:NYCB) has been around since 1859 and is one of the more interesting publicly traded banking institutions in the market. The company has a somewhat unusual, but high-quality asset portfolio and is one of the most efficient banks in the U.S.

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The bank has thrived over the past several decades and has grown tremendously through acquisitions, delivering spectacular returns to shareholders. Here are four reasons New York Community Bancorp deserves to be considered for your portfolio.

Excellent asset quality
New York Community Bancorp's assets are of a level of quality that most other banks can only dream of.

Since 1993, the banks net charge-offs have averaged just 0.04% of loans, and is currently even more impressive at just 0.03% of the loan portfolio. Compare this to Citigroup, whose net charge-off rate was 1.16% for the first quarter of 2014, or even rock-solid Wells Fargo's 0.37%.

Only 0.37% of the bank's loans are currently non-performing, far below the banking industry average of 1.58%. Even during the Savings & Loan Crisis of the early 1990's and the Great Recession, the bank consistently outperformed the industry average for charge-offs and non-performing loans.

New York Community Bank has achieved this by insisting on very conservative loan-to-value ratios and debt coverage ratios. The Board of Directors is actively involved in the review and approval of all of the bank's loans. And, the types of loans the bank carries in its portfolio are inherently risk-averse, which we'll see in a bit.

High efficiency
When it comes to a bank's efficiency ratio, lower is better. This is a measure of a bank's operating expenses relative to its revenue.

The overall banking industry averages an efficiency ratio of about 66%. In other words, for every dollar the average bank makes, it has to spend $0.66.

Well, New York Community Bank operates at an efficiency ratio of less than 45%, which actually puts in in the top 3% of all U.S. banks. For comparison's sake, Wells Fargo and Citigroup both have efficiency ratios of around 56%, and not one of the 10 largest U.S. banks is more efficient than NYCB.

The best and biggest in a niche market
One of the best ways to ensure consistent success and growth is to become the best at something that not many other companies do well. For New York Community Bank, this is New York City multi-family loan production.

About 64% of the bank's loan portfolio consists of multi-family property loans, most of which are located in New York City.

While the company is the leading producer of multi-family loans in NYC, the company specializes further, to those buildings with rent-regulated housing units. At first this may seem counterintuitive, as these properties produce lower rent than non-regulated units.

However, because the buildings bring in below-market rental income, tenants are much more likely to stay than tenants in market-rate buildings. This is especially true in recessions and otherwise bad economic times, and is one of the reasons for New York Community Bank's extraordinarily low charge-off rate.

These loans are also less costly to produce and service than most other types of loans, so this is also one of the reasons the bank is so efficient.

A winning formula that produces results
So, how have the high efficiency, great asset quality, and niche lending worked out so far for the bank?

Extremely well, actually. The bank has grown tremendously through acquisitions, and shareholders have been handsomely rewarded. Since its IPO in late 1993, the bank has produced a total return of 4,131%, or an annualized rate of 28% per year. So, a $10,000 investment in New York Community Bank 20 years ago would be worth more than $420,000 today.

New York Community Bancorp has figured out a winning formula that has produced excellent results for investors, and should continue to do so for years to come.

NYCB's dividend is nice, but these are better income stock
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Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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