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KBW Just Upgraded Two Small-Cap Banks

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KBW Just Upgraded Two Small-Cap Banks

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods recently released two reports highlighting Cardinal Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: CFNL) and First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ: FFBC).

Analysts Catherine Mealor and Andrew Taylor upgraded Cardinal Financial to Outperform with a $23 price target. Christopher McGratty and Michael Perito upgraded First Financial from Market Perform to OutPerform with a $19.50 price target.

Cardinal Financial

"Cardinal Bank is a high performing bank that continues to deliver attractive balance sheet growth with exceptional credit quality trends in the metro DC market under its 'Aggressive on Sales, Conservative on Risk' operating philosophy," the report stated.

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"The current valuation supports our expectations for 6–7 percent EPS growth over the next two years; however, we believe upside in the stock could come in the form of an M&A catalyst with CFNL as either a buyer or a seller," KBW continued.

Another positive catalyst that KBW noted is Cardinal Financial's mortgage subsidiary George Mason Mortgage. Analysts believe the business unit has brought volatility to earnings; however, its "purchase money focus" in a strong market could provide a cushion in industry downturns.

First Financial

"The company returned to the M&A arena in 2014 with 3 bank deals, which collectively boosted assets by about 10 percent," the analysts said.

"This evolving dynamic, along with a healthy 4 percent yield are key investment considerations in the near term," KBW explained, "We expect 11 percent EPS growth in 2016."

KBW analysts highlighted that First Financial showed strong organic growth, with loans increasing 13 percent in 2015. This may drive the company's stock going forward in the competitive financial services industry.

At The Time Of This Publication...

  • Cardinal Financial was seen trading at $17.86, down 2.35 percent.
  • First Financial was seen trading at $15.00, down 3.29 percent.
  • Latest Ratings for CFNL

    DateFirmActionFromTo
    Nov 2016Boenning & ScattergoodDowngradesNeutralUnderperform
    Aug 2016Keefe Bruyette & WoodsDowngradesOutperformMarket Perform
    Aug 2016Raymond JamesDowngradesOutperformMarket Perform

    View More Analyst Ratings for CFNL
    View the Latest Analyst Ratings

     

    Related Articles (CFNL + FFBC)

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