Despite Gains, National Bank of Greece Still Faces Risk

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Another round of emergency European Central Bank (ECB) funding from late last week allowed Greek banks to open on Monday. Currently, Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, is in talks with European leaders to work out a proposal or deal to prevent a Greek default and departure from the eurozone.

At the end of last week, Tsipras met with Vladimir Putin in hopes that Russia would be able to bail out Greece. It is still up in the air whether Russia will help Greece.

However, it is likely that Greece will get its bailout from the eurozone, based on the progress in the talks that have been happening on Monday.

On the other side of the coin, if in the future Greek banks go to zero, then one could expect that these banks would be nationalized. Needless to say, nationalization is not good for shareholders in the least bit, nor is it good for depositors and other creditors in the capital structure.

In 2013, the banks in Cyprus got to find out how painful this can be, with depositors also taking it on the chin. As per the Washington Post, the second largest Cypriotic bank was effectively split into two entities. Greece might hope that this would not be the case with National Bank of Greece S. A. (NYSE: NBG) or any other Greek bank.

NBG’s short interest for the May 29 settlement date was 14.2 million shares, with two days to cover, which was down compared to the previous settlement date’s reading of 15.6 million, with 1.7 days to cover.

As 24/7 Wall St. has previously warned, a gain of roughly 17% does not price in chances of a full success here. With shares at $1.29, its 52-week range is $0.98 to $3.93. That is even down sharply from 2013 and 2012, when shares were above $10 and $20 — and we will not even bother going into how bad it compares to the $50 and $100 share prices in 2011, if you adjust for the two reverse splits since then.

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The Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (NYSEMKT: GREK) was up 8.2% at $12.01. The 52-week trading range is $9.76 to $23.98.

This is one of those situations where a formal deal in Greece could still create massive gains. A Greek default could tank things even further in Greece. Unfortunately, the people in Greece will not know what happens until whatever decision actually gets put into motion.