On January 8, Zacks Investment Research upgraded
Union First Market Bankshares Corporation
) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?
Union First has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the
back of strong third-quarter 2012 results. Moreover, this
well-known provider of banking and related financial services to
retail and commercial customers delivered positive earnings
surprises in 9 of the last 10 quarters. The long-term expected
earnings growth rate for this stock is 12.0%.
Union First reported third-quarter results on October 22.
Earnings per share came in at 37 cents, surpassing the Zacks
Consensus Estimate and year-ago earnings of 33 cents by 12.1%.
Results benefited from an improved fee income, partly offset by
higher expenses and a decline in net interest income.
The company's net interest income fell 1.7% year over year to
$38.8 million. However, non-interest income totaled $15.6
million, jumping 36.3%, driven by higher other service charges,
commissions and fees along with gains on sale of loans.
Non-interest expenses soared 11.1% to $38.3 million, mainly due
to higher salary and compensation costs.
Credit quality continued to improve at Union First. Provision for
loan losses plummeted 33.3% from the prior-year quarter to $2.4
million. Similarly, as of September 30, 2012, nonperforming
assets were 2.29% of total loans, down 79 basis points from the
Following strong third-quarter results, Union First also
increased its quarterly dividend to 12 cents per share.
This reflects a 20% increase over the prior-quarter and a 71%
jump over the prior-year quarter.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 increased 7.9% to $1.36 per
share over the last 90 days. For 2013, the Zacks Consensus
Estimate jumped 9.9% to $1.33 per share over the same time frame.
Other Stocks to Consider
Cardinal Financial Corp.
) are the other regional banks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong
CARDINAL FINL (CFNL): Free Stock Analysis
IBERIABANK CORP (IBKC): Free Stock Analysis
UNION FIRST MKT (UBSH): Free Stock Analysis
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