Gator Capital Administration 1H 2022 Investor Letter

August 27, 2022

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Pricey Gator Monetary Companions:

We’re happy to give you Gator Monetary Companions, LLC’s (the “Fund” or “GFP”) 1st Half 2022 investor letter. This letter opinions the Fund’s 1st half of 2022 funding efficiency, our present ideas on financial institution shares, and our funding thesis on Axos Financial institution (AX).

Overview of 1st Half 2022 Efficiency

Throughout the 1st Half of 2022, the Fund outperformed the Financials sector benchmark and the broader market. Quick positions in SoFi Applied sciences (SOFI), Compass, and Boston Properties (BXP) had been high contributors to efficiency. The most important detractors had been lengthy positions in PennyMac Monetary (PFSI), Jackson Nationwide, and Navient (NAVI).

For Q2 2022, the Fund’s high contributors had been quick positions in SoFi Applied sciences, Compass, and Boston Properties. The main detractors had been lengthy positions in Jackson Nationwide, Anyplace Actual Property (HOUS, fka Realogy Holdings), and BBX Capital (OTCQX:BBXIA).

2022 YTD

Complete Return Since Inception1

Annualized Return Since Gator’s Inception1

Gator Monetary Companions, LLC2




S&P 500 Complete Return Index3




S&P 1500 Financials Index3




1 The Fund’s inception date was July 1, 2008.

2 Efficiency offered assumes reinvestment of dividends, is web of charges, brokerage and different commissions, and different bills an investor within the Fund would have paid. Previous efficiency just isn’t indicative of future outcomes. Please see Common Disclaimer on web page 7.

3 Efficiency offered assumes reinvestment of dividends. No charges or different bills have been deducted.

Supply: Gator Capital Administration & Bloomberg

Present Ideas on Financial institution Shares

Regional banks and different shares within the Financials sector had a poor first half of 2022. Traders shifted from optimism about rising charges serving to financial institution earnings, to specializing in draw back threat and fears of recession. Throughout January & February, the regional financial institution index outperformed the broader inventory market by 12%. In distinction, from the tip of February by means of June, regional banks underperformed the broader market by 9%.

This underperformance got here on the similar time rates of interest had been taking pictures greater. Rising rates of interest assist financial institution earnings as a result of banks can earn extra on the money, loans, and securities they maintain, whereas they lag rising the charges they pay on their deposits. Rising rates of interest ought to materially assist most banks’ earnings.

The change in financial institution inventory efficiency coincided with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which we consider was the catalyst for buyers to start fearing a recession. When buyers begin to worry a recession, one of many first sectors they appear to scale back threat is Financials due to the potential for credit score losses in a recession. To implement this commerce shortly, some giant buyers use ETFs to scale back their financial institution exposures.

This causes a briefly excessive correlation amongst financial institution shares and creates alternative, as both some banks have a lot better credit score underwriting than others, or they’ve mortgage portfolios centered on much less dangerous forms of loans. We predict there may be alternative to distinguish between the banks and personal those with much less dangerous credit score profiles.

If we’ve a recession, we consider will probably be quick and shallow. Within the final 35 years, we’ve had 4 recessions:

  • 1990-91: Industrial actual property, Financial savings & Mortgage disaster, and Kuwait invasion
  • 2000-02: Web bubble and telecom debt bubble
  • 2008-09 Nice Monetary Disaster,
  • 2020 Covid shutdown

The deep recessions had been the 1990-91 recession and the 2008-09 recession. These recessions coincided with credit score crunches. The banking business had extreme issues throughout these recessions as a result of financial institution lending requirements had been free getting into these intervals. When the banks tightened underwriting throughout these recessions, it had a compounding impact, additional restricted financial exercise, and made the recessions deeper.

Throughout the different two recessions (in 2000-02 and in 2020) banks had been extra wholesome and continued lending by means of the recessions. Financial exercise recovered in an inexpensive time, and these recessions had been shallow. In our view, financial institution steadiness sheets and credit score high quality have by no means been stronger. We don’t consider banks have free credit score underwriting. We predict banks will proceed lending if we’ve a recession.

We consider the market is overlooking the chance in banks. The earnings prospects have improved with greater charges, however the shares have declined considerably since March. We personal a number of banks that commerce at 7x 2023 earnings, in comparison with January once they had been buying and selling as excessive as 14x earnings. We consider the earnings prospects have gotten higher throughout 2022. We now have seen sturdy mortgage development in Q2 2022. Rates of interest moved sooner than investor expectations in the beginning of the yr, and credit score high quality has remained sturdy.

We do have minor issues with banks. With charge will increase, banks are exhibiting losses on their bond holdings. This can be a cause buyers are selecting to not personal banks regardless of good mortgage development and increasing web curiosity margins. One other concern is the Fed might not pause rate of interest will increase till they harm the financial system. The Fed appears insistent on elevating charges regardless of long-term bonds yielding round 3%. Market commentators seek advice from this as a possible “coverage error” by the Fed.

We’re much less involved. We predict the Fed is attempting to regain its inflation-fighting credibility, however they won’t trigger a deep recession. Lastly, we consider a number of the market sell-off in financial institution shares throughout 2022 is as a result of sell-off within the broader inventory market and in crypto currencies. Whereas this doesn’t have an effect on the basic efficiency of our financial institution holdings, the broader bear market does cut back general liquidity within the monetary system. In the end, we expect the pullback in crypto and technology-related areas is wholesome, but it surely creates near-term uncertainty.

We predict the market has overshot on the costs of banks and different Financials in comparison with the basics. The banks often monitor the 10-year Treasury. Nonetheless, since March, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the connection between financial institution shares and the 10-year Treasury has diverged. We’re already seeing that Q2 earnings studies have been a cause for buyers to positively reevaluate their positioning. On the similar time, we’re conscious buyers might wait till after they get extra readability so as to add extra threat on this space.

Axos Monetary (AX)

We now have owned a place in Axos Monetary for two years, however the inventory is off 37% from its excessive in early 2022. We predict Axos is an efficient instance of the chance in financial institution shares proper now. Axos has sturdy natural development. It has low credit score losses and can profit from greater charges. No firm particular points have materialized in 2022 to elucidate the inventory decline.

Right here is our funding thesis on Axos Monetary:

  1. Administration – Greg Garrabrants has been the CEO since 2007 and has carried out a pleasant job of rising the financial institution. We predict his technique of concentrating on lending companies with engaging returns and steadily constructing out a number of deposit franchises has created worth. For instance, Axos has constructed out a number of mortgage applications similar to Small Stability Industrial Mortgages and Lender Finance. On the deposit facet, Axos has diversified its deposit gathering from Client Direct to incorporate Fiduciary Deposits and White Label Banking.
  2. Nationwide Direct Financial institution – Axos Monetary is a nationwide direct financial institution. They’ve prospects in each state, however they don’t have branches. Beforehand, Axos operated beneath the identify Financial institution of the Web. The direct financial institution operation permits them to function extra effectively than different banks with important department programs. Working as a direct financial institution for twenty years has positioned them nicely for the present development of distant work and serving prospects just about.
  3. Natural Development Focus – For probably the most half, Axos has grown organically all through its historical past. Nonetheless, sometimes, the corporate has made small acquisitions to accumulate new capabilities, such because the securities clearing enterprise, which they use as development platforms. We consider natural development is extra helpful than acquisition development.
  4. Securities Clearing – Over the past a number of years, Axos has made a pair bolt-on acquisitions which have positioned it to develop in serving Funding Advisors and smaller Dealer-Sellers. Axos bought Apex Clearing to start out serving smaller Dealer-Sellers. This deal provides Axos entry to low-cost deposits within the type of extra money held by the Dealer-Supplier’s prospects of their brokerage accounts. Then, final yr, Axos bought E*Commerce’s Funding Advisor (“RIA”) servicing enterprise from Morgan Stanley (MS). We predict there’s a good alternative for Axos to fill a market want in servicing RIA’s. After Schwab (SCHW) acquired Ameritrade, there are fewer choices, particularly for smaller RIA’s, to custody their prospects’ property. This acquisition of E*Commerce’s RIA relationships provides Axos important mass to develop this enterprise.
  5. Low Valuation – Axos trades at 8x earnings. As just lately as January, the financial institution traded at 14x earnings. We attribute the decrease valuation to the overall sell-off in regional financial institution shares because the Russian invasion of Ukraine reasonably than any Axos particular concern.

Different inventory market buyers see dangers to Axos Monetary’s shares:

  1. Much less Asset Delicate – Axos has a big share of hybrid fixed-rate loans with preliminary phrases of three to five years. So, within the present rising charge setting, Axos is much less asset delicate than friends who’ve a better share of floating charge loans. Nonetheless, in comparison with 2015, Axos’ steadiness sheet is extra delicate to rising rates of interest than it had been. Axos has extra floating charge business loans than it did in 2015. Additionally, Axos has extra low-cost business deposits it is not going to need to reprice to retain. We nonetheless suppose Axos will profit from greater rates of interest, however the profit will come over a interval of a number of years, as a substitute of in late 2022 and early 2023.
  2. Govt Compensation – The CEO has an progressive compensation construction. His compensation will increase if the inventory outperforms its benchmark. This will result in remarkably excessive payouts if the inventory does nicely. If the inventory underperforms, he is not going to obtain a bonus. We aren’t thrilled with this association, however we tolerate it as a result of we consider the chance in Axos is outsized.

We like Axos Monetary. We predict the inventory is attention-grabbing on the present degree. The administration staff has a powerful report of constant, natural development. The financial institution’s present valuation is low, particularly in comparison with current historical past. We predict the financial institution has ample alternative for continued development. We view Axos for instance of a financial institution holding in our portfolio that demonstrates low valuation, strong natural development, and low chance of fabric credit score losses within the medium-term. We now have a dozen or extra holdings with related traits.

Portfolio Evaluation

Largest Positions

Beneath are the Fund’s 5 largest widespread fairness lengthy positions. All information is as of June 30, 2022.


Genworth Monetary (GNW)

First Bancorp PR (FBP)

OFG Bancorp (OFG)

PennyMac Monetary Providers (PFSI)

Victory Capital Holdings (VCTR)

Sub-sector Weightings

Beneath is a desk exhibiting the Fund’s positioning throughout the Financials sector[1] as of June 30th, 2022.




Alt Asset Managers




Capital Markets




Banks (giant)




Banks (small)




P&C Insurance coverage




Life Insurance coverage




Non-bank Lenders








Actual Property








Index Hedges












The Fund’s gross publicity is 193.71%, and its web publicity is 81.55%. From this desk, we exclude mounted revenue devices similar to most well-liked inventory. Most well-liked inventory positions account for an extra 13.73% of the portfolio.


Thanks for entrusting us with a portion of your wealth. We’re grateful for buyers such as you who consider and belief in our technique. On a private degree, Derek Pilecki, the Fund’s Portfolio Supervisor, continues to have greater than 80% of his liquid web value invested within the Fund.

As all the time, we welcome the chance to talk with you and talk about the Fund.


Gator Capital Administration, LLC


[1] “Financials sector” is outlined as corporations included within the World Business Classification System (“GICS”) sectors 40 and 60, which incorporates monetary and actual property corporations.

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Editor’s Be aware: The abstract bullets for this text had been chosen by Searching for Alpha editors.

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