Some investors are finding the stress tests to be mighty stressful, and wish the government would just disclose the final results.
The U.S. government is telling Citigroup it may need to raise more capital, sources said on Tuesday, and the Wall Street Journal reported that Bank of America may be facing similar pressure. European and Asian markets fell on the news, and shares of both banks were clobbered Tuesday.
Meanwhile, analysts and investors are applying their own stress tests, and the results are evident in the market. Wells Fargo & Co shares dropped 4 percent on Tuesday, while SunTrust Banks Inc fell 6.1 percent.
To many investors, the slow drip of information is torturous.
I can't understand it. When the market is desperate for some type of clarity, backdooring this information does not make any sense to me, said Walter Todd, portfolio manager at Greenwood Capital Associates said.
To be sure, the government may not yet be releasing any information publicly, and leaks could be coming from elsewhere. The government has a lot of paper circulating to a lot of people now. It's unrealistic to expect anyone to stop leaks, said Daniel Alpert, managing director at boutique investment bank Westwood Capital in New York.
But the publicity about stress tests has put banks needing capital in a tough spot, analysts said. Shares of banks expected to need more capital under the stress test are already seeing their share prices drop in anticipation of more share issuance.
To me, they've created more angst through the process than is needed, said Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer of Fifth Third Asset Management, which manages $22 billion.
The best option for many banks may be some combination of selling assets and getting the government and investors to convert preferred shares into common stock, as Citi is doing.
The bank said in February it planned to convert up to $52.5 billion of preferred shares, but that amount may increase. Regulators have told Citigroup that it may need to boost its capital, and a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that it would expect to raise capital through including more preferred securities in its exchange offer.
More discretion earlier in the process may have been useful, but at this point, investors are keen for information, and do not want to wait. Regulators are stress-testing 19 banks, and told banks the preliminary results on Friday. Banks can contest the results, and government officials have said they will release results in some form next week.
A White House spokesman said on Friday he expected some major banks to release their own results and that the Obama administration would disclose some data as well.
Our strong inclination is to provide transparency, Robert Gibbs told reporters. I think you'll see some banks release on their own some of the results and we'll release what we deem applicable.
(Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Dan Wilchins and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)