Susquehanna Bancshares (
) keeps moving in the right direction with its dividend.
When the bank holding company raised its quarterly dividend
last month, that represented the fourth time it had hiked its
payout in 16 months.
The most recent quarterly dividend, paid out on Aug. 20, was 6
cents a share. That's up from 5 cents in the prior period -- and
also up from just 1 cent in 2011's first quarter.
Susquehanna Bancshares is the Lititz, Pa.-based holding
company for Susquehanna Bank, a regional bank with branches in
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia. It focuses
on retail banking, commercial banking and financial services such
as wealth management.
Over the past three quarters, Susquehanna has returned to
revenue growth, scoring gains of 21%, 11% and 17% after posting
quarterly declines for eight straight periods. Profit gains also
have been strong lately, accelerating to 133% EPS growth last
quarter from increases of 75% and 50%.
The company has gotten a lift from acquisitions, such as its
deal last year to buy Tower Bancorp. But it signaled at least a
pause in its recent buying during an earnings conference call
"I am more concerned right now about making sure we maximize
the franchise we have, which is 261 branches and $18 billion in
assets ... with some great opportunities in a lot of markets,"
CEO William J. Reuter told analysts during the call. "I'm more
concerned about doing that than I am about buying somebody else
at this point in time."
Other strengths for Susquehanna include increasing ownership
by U.S. mutual and hedge funds, a highly ranked industry group
(Northeast banks) and a 3-Year EPS Stability Factor of 5, near
the best-possible grade of zero. The EPS Stability Factor can
help indicate whether or not a company will be able to keep
paying its dividend.
In terms of its stock chart, Susquehanna has been finding
support at its 10-week moving average for several weeks. And for
a couple of months, it's been holding above $10, which can serve
as a key threshold for some institutional investors.