Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wachovia: Turning the corner

The recent press headlines for Wachovia have been bleak recently; auction-rate security investigation raids, analyst downgrades, and sliding share prices. It seems that the bank can't catch a break from the negative media coverage. This is on top of all the earlier problems that led many to question the underlying integrity of the entire institution which in the past has joined telemarketers to scam it's own customers, and was fined $145 million from the Feds.

Despite all the difficult news there is a bright spot -- and his name is new CEO Robert Steel . Right from the initial conference call it appears that he is on the right track. He is going to first evaluate the "challenges" faced by the bank with particular focus on the residential mortgage portfolio and exposure to commercial real estate. Steel promises to outline his strategy on July 22, when the bank is slated to report its second quarter earnings. In a couple days we will be able to see how Wall Street reacts to the earnings and the vision of the new leadership.

Based on his reputation in both capital markets and government; Steel is likely to restore what is most important to Wachovia - a reputation for integrity.