Thanks to its precarious economic situation, Puerto Rico has begun popping up in Q3 earnings reports.
On Tuesday, UBS announced it took a $US20 million loss related to the island’s bonds and an additional $US21 million hit on future credit losses related to securities-backed loans. The Wall Street Journal’s Corrie Driebusch spotted this detail.
“In our view this is a market issue and not a UBS issue,” a UBS spokesman told Investment News.
But outside of financial firms, people are actually saying pretty upbeat things about the island.
Retail is most bullish. Restaurants opening franchises there include the Cheesecake Factory, Kona Grill, with mall operator Taubman also saying it was expanding it’s restaurant component at one of its Puerto Rico holdings.
“[B]ecause the island is so under-retailed and because, culturally, the Puerto Ricans just love to shop, our retailers have done well,” said the CEO of real estate company Kimco said in his Q3 call. “Our shopping centres have done well. And the rent growth is real there. And the list of retailers that want to open up in Puerto Rico notwithstanding the economy and the fiscal situation of Puerto Rico .”
Integra Life Sciences says its pharmaceutical plant on the island is doing great. “We added a third shift and improved our yields to more than double capacity of our collagen products in Puerto Rico and we are now building inventory back to targeted levels,” CEO Peter Arduini said.
Acadia Healthcare says it’s expanding its hospital there.
Schnitzer Steel said 40% of its Q3 capital expenditures went to Canada and Puerto Rico.
The losses on Wall Street linked to the island, however, are real.
Legg Mason’s CEO acknowledged the bank has “experienced a redemption rate, that I would say is a bit elevated vis-à-vis the industry,” as a result of deteriorating Puerto Rican assets.
Franklin Resources, which runs Franklin Templeton Investments, saw $US5.4 billion-worth of outflows from its tax-free bond funds, which Reuters’ Tim McLaughlin said were “influenced” by Puerto Rico’s credit problems.
But Franklin CEO Greg Johnson blamed “headlines” for the outflows, arguing not much on the ground has changed:
“[W]e view the current selloff as a reflection of weak demands stemming from fears of high interest rates and negative headlines, as opposed to a fundamental change in the underlying credit outlook for the asset class as a whole,” said Johnson.
Even Puerto Rican financial firms are only experiencing mild pain. Banco Popular said that while it took $US6.4 million in losses on Puerto Rican assets, its non-performing loan inflows decreased approximately $US800 million or about 83%, “driven by improvements in the Puerto Rico mortgage, Puerto Rico commercial and U.S. commercial portfolios.”
Puerto Rico-based OFG Bancorp, which says this is all basically old news: ” We have been living closely with [these challenges] since at least the mid-2000.”
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