First Republic stock plunged by nearly 50% at the close of trading on Tuesday, hitting a new record low after the embattled lender reported late Monday that its total deposits fell 41% in the first quarter, to $104.5 billion, even after a consortium of banks stepped in with $30 billion to prevent the regional lender from failing. Without that cash infusion, deposits would have fallen by over 50%.
Analysts were expecting deposits to land at around $136.7 billion.
First Republic Bank also expects to cut its workforce by 20-25% this quarter, it said late Monday during its first-quarter earnings call.
The bank said it saw a sharp drop in deposit activity after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last month, but that activity began to stabilize at the end of March and has since remained steady.
“We experienced unprecedented deposit outflows,” said CEO Michael Roffler on the call. But deposit activity has evened out since the end of March, he added. “Total deposits were $102.7 billion as of April 21, 2023, down only 1.7% from March 31, 2023,” he said. That small drop, he added, likely reflected regular seasonal client tax payments.
The call lasted about 13 minutes and Roffler did not take any questions from investors or the media.
San Francisco-based First Republic also reported that year-over-year revenues were down 13.4%. Net interest income, the money a bank makes from charging interest on the loans they give out minus the interest they have to pay to depositors and other lenders, was down 19.4%.
The bank reported earnings per share of $1.23, higher than analysts’ expectations of $0.85 per share, according to Refinitiv data.
First Republic also said in its earnings release on Monday that it was “taking actions to strengthen its business and restructure its balance sheet.”
One of those options could be selling off assets. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the lender is looking to sell as much as $100 billion of its loans and securities in a bid to balance its books. First Republic declined to comment to CNN on the story.
When the banking crisis erupted, about two-thirds of First Republic’s deposits were uninsured with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That’s lower than the 94% at Silicon Valley Bank – but at the end of last year, First Republic had an exceptionally high ratio of 111% for loans and long-term investments to deposits, according to S&P Global – meaning it has loaned and invested more money than it has in deposits.
The bank sits at the center of the ongoing regional banking chaos, and investors were looking, in particular, for any sign of a liquidity crunch – when banks have insufficient cash available to meet demands for withdrawals and debt repayment.
“We expect that First Republic’s results will be a bellwether of sentiment for the sector,” wrote analysts at VandaTrack in a recent note.
Roffler attempted to assure investors that the bank was liquid, telling investors on the Monday call that as of April 4, First Republic had twice the available liquidity of uninsured deposits (excluding the $30 billion received from large banks).
But that didn’t seem to be enough. Shares of the stock have now plummeted by more than 90% year to date.
In addition to reducing its workforce by up to a quarter, the bank said it would take further steps to reduce its expenses. Those include significant reductions to executive compensation, condensing office space and reducing nonessential projects.
There’s a lot of money on the line: In January and February, trading in First Republic stock was outright sleepy. Retail investors averaged just $20,000 in daily net purchases. But after the collapse of SVB, that daily average trading of the company’s stock exploded to $10.3 million, according to data through April 10 from VandaTrack.
TD Ameritrade’s Investment Movement Index, which tracks retail traders, found that its clients were net buyers of First Republic Bank in March even as the company’s shares plummeted more than 88% over worries about uninsured deposits and the overall health of the banking system.
So far – and it’s very early days – the optimism hasn’t paid off: First Republic has been hovering at $15 a share for the last six weeks, down from a range of $115 to $145 a share in the first two months of 2023. The stock closed at just $8.10 a share.