Royal Bank of Canada may be downplaying the significance of its futures-trading imbroglio, but investors aren’t: The shares were down 3.1 per cent in afternoon trading on Tuesday, erasing about $2.5-billion from the bank’s market capitalization.
Okay, other banks are down too, and so is the overall stock market. And yes, the stock’s reaction might be incorporating RBC’s decision to spend $1.1-billion to buy the rest of Dexia it doesn’t already own. However, it’s probably still safe to say that investors are perturbed, given that the Dexia deal isn’t causing a big stir while the futures issue has been splashed all over newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal.
On Monday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued RBC alleging the bank had conducted an illegal “wash trading scheme.” RBC denied the charges, saying it had received permission for the trades. A bank spokesperson said it was “not a financially material event.”
For their part, analysts have been siding with RBC so far. Of the six analysts who released research reports on Tuesday, all maintained their target prices, ranging between $57 and $66.50. My colleagues Jody White and Darcy Keith have a roundup here of what analysts are saying.