Monday, August 4, 2008

America's Smartest Banker (HCBK)

I'm going off-topic for a couple posts. This is a story that deserves wider circulation.
From Slate:

The nation's financial industry is cratering, so how come Hudson City Bank is thriving?

"If you look to the right, you can see New York City," says Ronald Hermance Jr., CEO of Hudson City Bancorp, as he points out the fourth-floor window of the company's boxy headquarters in unglamorous Paramus, N.J. I had to venture through traffic to this distinctly nonimperial corporate redoubt 17 miles west of the George Washington Bridge—it's just past a union building and across the street from a garden supply center—in my quest to find a sensible banker in the New York area. Despite the proximity to Manhattan, Hermance and his 140-year-old bank have never been part of the fast-money Wall Street scene. And thanks to its geographic and cultural distance, this bridge-and-tunnel bank has thrived amid the mortgage debacle.

Hudson City in late July reported that second-quarter profits were up 52.3 percent. In the 2008 first half, mortgage originations rose 50 percent from 2007. And yet its balance sheet is pristine. "Only 328 out of 79,929 loans are nonperforming at the end of the second quarter," he said.
(But who's counting?)...MORE

Here's Cramer last December:
Bank With Hudson City
Hudson City Bancorp is best of breed not just because of its upside potential, but also because it's so well protected against the downside, Cramer told Homegamers Thursday. So even if the Federal Reserve decides not to cut rates Dec. 11, Hudson should withstand the fallout.

But Cramer fully expects the central bank will cut. And that means bank stocks go much, much higher. Why? Because the Fed sets short rates, which are the interest rates a bank gives on a money-market account or certificate of deposit. Lower rates mean banks pay out less on a CD, but they can loan at a higher price. So the more the Fed cuts, the more the banks profit....MORE