Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Capital One: Expect Charge-Off Rates Greater than 10%

by Bill McBride on 4/21/2009 06:45:00 PM

Conference call notes (ht Brian):

Economic deterioration continued at a rapid pace during the first quarter driving increasing delinquency and charge off rates across most of our lending businesses. U.S. card charge off rate increased to 8.4% for the first quarter, above the 8.1% charge off rate expectation we articulated a quarter ago. Expected seasonal increases in bankruptcies and declining loan balances resulted in higher charge off rates compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. The increase in charge off rates beyond our expectations resulted from several factors related to the pace of economic deterioration in the quarter. Bankruptcies were higher than expected, increasing charge-offs directly without impacting delinquency rates. Recoveries on already charged off debt were lower than expected. We also observed an acceleration of later stage delinquency balances slowing to charge off in the quarter. For context recall that when we articulated our expectations last January the unemployment rate was 7.2% and we assumed it would increase to about 8.7% by the ends of 2009. The unemployment rate has already deteriorated to 8.5% and is expected to move beyond 8.7% well before year end. Even though our U.S. card charge off rate was higher than the expectation we had last quarter delinquencies and charge-offs were a bit better than we would have expected given the actual economic worsening we've seen in the quarter. ...

Credit Loss outlook

We expect further increases in U.S. card charge off rate through 2009 as the economy continues to weaken. It is likely that will our U.S. card charge off rate will increase at a faster pace than the broader economy as a result of the denominator effect and our implementation of OCC minimum payment requirements ... We expect monthly U.S. card charge off rates to cross 10% in the next couple of months.

Economic Outlook

I'll update our economic outlook. Unemployment and home prices have been and continue to be the economic variables with the greatest impact on our credit results. We now expect unemployment rate to increase to around 9.6% by the ends of 2009. Our prior assumption for home prices was for the Case Shiller 20 city index to fall by around 37% peak to trough. We now expect a modestly worse peak to trough decline of around 39%. ...
The expected 'greater than 10% charge-off rate' is probably worse than the expected credit card loss rates for the "more adverse" scenario. I'll be curious if the Federal Reserve white paper, to be released on Friday, will mention the expected loss rates by category.