Sterne Agee reduced its rating on Provident Financial ServicesPFS
from By to Neutral. Sterne Agee commented, "We are looking for 4Q 2012 earnings of $0.24 per share, down from $0.28 per share. Our estimate is $0.03 per share below consensus expectations of $0.27 per share. The projected sequential decline in earnings is due to a larger loan loss provision expense of $7 million, compared to a range of provision expenses of $3.5-$5.0 million over the last three quarters. The larger provision expense is due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Higher credit costs will be partially offset by the repurchase of 0.4 million shares. The company is expected to report earnings during the week of January 28." Provident Financial Services closed at $15.44 on Wednesday.
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