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Banks have gone through one of the worst phases in their history, and some are still very much in their recovery phase, so it's difficult to make a strong call on the banking industry as a whole. However, regional banks have been making an impressive comeback, and I'm optimistic on quite a few of them. Synovus Financial (NYSE: SNV ) , in particular, compels me to dig in and evaluate its return-generating capacity.
Return on equity is a crucial metric that evaluates how effectively a company is using its capital. In Synovus' case, the figure stands at negative 23.7%. On an absolute basis, this looks dismal.
But to get a complete picture, we need to look at it from a relative point of view. Synovus' ROE has been showing improvement and has reached its highest point since 2008. A year ago, it stood at -49.3%. In fact, its negative ROE is still better than that of some of its peers, including Flagstar Bancorp (NYSE: FBC ) , which stands at -27.7%, and BankAtlantic Bancorp (NYSE: BBX ) , which is at -261.8%.
Synovus' Tier 1 capital ratio of 12.8% is much better than that of BankAtlantic, which stands at 9.7%, and Marshall & Ilsley (NYSE: MI ) , which is at 11%.
Furthermore, the bank is improving on the earnings front. Although it reported a first-quarter loss of $93.7 million, that's a 48% improvement over the preceding quarter. More importantly, it witnessed a significant decline in its credit costs and net chargeoffs.
Taking forward P/E into account, Synovus, at 12.6, looks more appealing than its rivals. Peer banks Marshall and Flagstar look more expensive, with their P/Es standing at 19.7 and 26.4, respectively.
On the other hand, Synovus' price-to-book ratio of 0.9, though low on an absolute basis, is higher than that of Marshall's 0.65 and Flagstar's 0.75. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. It could be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the quality of assets the company is sitting on.
In terms of divided yield, Synovus has an edge over its peers. It offers a decent current yield of 1.9%, while Marshall offers 0.5% and Flagstar and BankAtlantic don't offer any.
The Foolish bottom line
Synovus' attractive fundamentals and recovering metrics make me think it could be a potential investment. If you're the type of investor who focuses on a company's stability and ability to grow, keep an eye on this one.