Morgan Stanley can not catch a break, especially from Hedgeye Financials Sector Head Josh Steiner. Triple trouble for Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman and Co. this week as whispers indicate that Moody’s will pull the trigger on its wave of bank downgrades. Combine that with the CDS problems that are reminiscent of Lehman Brothers, the problems with the European Union and the $9 billion+ collateral call courtesy of Moody’s and things are not looking good.
We have three key takeaways on what’s really going on inside MS:
• It is the most exposed US bank to EU contagion. Greece’s election represents a potential catalyst for things to go from bad to worse.
• It is incredibly vulnerable to counterparty confidence flight. Default swaps are already reflecting great uncertainty about MS’ future. Coming downgrades must be watched closely for any impact on business flows. Counterparty concern can go from gradual to sudden virtually overnight.
• Even though the company’s liquidity and capital are much improved vs. 2008, the market is trading it as though there is no implicit US backstop. A further slowdown in the economy or in its core business could raise concerns about a downgrade to junk status, which would throw their institutional business into chaos.
Once again, when the time is right, we will short MS and will enjoy doing so.