Why MetLife Didn’t Tank Yesterday

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

Both life insurers and banks have felt the squeeze since the financial crisis, and for MetLife (NYSE: MET  ) , the not-so-proud owner of a banking unit, the pressure has been doubled. As regulators began piling rules on the banking sector, MetLife started divesting itself of anything bank-like. Unfortunately, the process has been frustratingly slow -- so slow, in fact, that the Fed has given the big insurer yet another extension  to file its capital plan with regulators.

Slow going, but not for lack of trying
Normally, this type of announcement would make investors a bit edgy, but MetLife is a special case. For the past year or more, the company has been on a frenzied slimming diet to rival that of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) under the auspices of CEO Brian Moynihan's Project New BAC.

In just the past year, the insurer sold its reverse mortgage business  to Nationstar Mortgage (NYSE: NSM  ) , the same outfit that just bought a ton more mortgage servicing rights from B of A. Walter Investments (NYSE: WAC  ) , another go-getter that was involved in the Bank of America MSR sale, purchased MetLife's servicing platform, which was apparently all that was left after JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) bought $70 billion of the insurers' MSRs last November.

The coup de grace, though, was to be the sale of MetLife's retail banking arm to General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) GE Capital subsidiary. After this sale was complete, MetLife would be able to un-bank itself, thereby getting out from under the steely gaze of bank regulators. But, alas, it was not to be.

Originally, the deal was to be approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which could never see its way clear to bless the union. The parties changed some terms of the sale, which pushed the whole affair away from the FDIC and under the microscope of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which recently approved the deal. Not in time, however, for MetLife to avoid filing a capital plan.

One Fool's take
It seems obvious that everyone knows MetLife will be back to its non-banking self soon. The Fed has given three extensions to the insurer regarding this filing, knowing full well that this deal will close sometime in the near future.

Just as importantly, MetLife's investors know it. The stock closed 0.6% higher yesterday, certainly not an indication of mass disappointment. Between this and new regulations that may allow life insurers some laxity on reserves, shareholders know that change is on the way -- after which the company will be able to reward their loyalty. Clearly, they feel they won't have much longer to wait.

For GE, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2187550, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/27/2016 3:27:07 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 6 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,094.83 -166.62 -0.91%
S&P 500 2,146.10 -18.59 -0.86%
NASD 5,257.49 -48.26 -0.91%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/26/2016 4:02 PM
MET $43.40 Down -1.12 -2.52%
MetLife CAPS Rating: *****
BAC $15.09 Down -0.43 -2.77%
Bank of America CAPS Rating: ****
GE $29.54 Down -0.35 -1.17%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
JPM $65.78 Down -1.47 -2.19%
JPMorgan Chase CAPS Rating: ****
NSM $14.51 Down -0.58 -3.84%
Nationstar Mortgag… CAPS Rating: ***
WAC $3.55 Down -0.12 -3.27%
Walter Investment… CAPS Rating: ***