Columbia Banking Upped to Strong Buy - Analyst Blog


On Apr 6, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Columbia Banking System Inc. ( COLB ) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Columbia Banking has been witnessing rising earnings estimates owing to the completion of its acquisition and a hike in its quarterly cash dividend. Moreover, this regional bank has a long-term earnings growth forecast of 11.0%.

On Apr 1, 2013, Columbia Banking announced the closure of its acquisition of West Coast Bancorp. Upon completion, the company's total assets exceeded $7.0 billion, with 157 branches in Wash. and Oregon. This cash and stock deal was announced in Sep 2012.

Additionally, in Jan 2013, Colombia Banking announced a 10% rise in its quarterly cash dividend. The cash dividend of 10 cents per share was paid on Feb 20 to shareholders of record on Feb 6. Hence, the company's dividend yield currently stands at 1.88%.

Moreover, Colombia Banking's fourth quarter earnings were 13.3% above the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Better-than-expected results were aided by an increase in fee income and decrease in operating expenses. These were partially offset by a decline in net interest income.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for first quarter 2013 is pegged at 31 cents per share along with a revenue estimate of $70 million. Moreover, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 4.5% to $1.40 per share over the last 60 days.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides Colombia Banking, other regional banks such as, Glacier Bancorp Inc. ( GBCI ), The Bancorp Inc. ( TBBK ) and First Connecticut Bancorp, Inc. ( FBNK ) carry a Zacks Rank #1 and are worth considering.

COLUMBIA BK SYS (COLB): Free Stock Analysis Report

FIRST CT BANCRP (FBNK): Free Stock Analysis Report

GLACIER BANCORP (GBCI): Free Stock Analysis Report

BANCORP BNK/THE (TBBK): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: COLB , FBNK , GBCI , TBBK

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