Another quarter has ended, and with that comes earnings releases. For those investors who follow the financial sector, earnings season may have started when JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo posted their results. However, a handful of smaller banks followed their much larger cousins with results released this week.
Not to be forgotten, regional banks and savings and loans tend to limit operations to smaller regions of the country but are generally less exposed to the risky and exotic activities of some of their larger brethren. Their results can often be a small indicator of what has been happening in smaller segments of the economy.
Average Estimated EPS
|Berkshire Hills Bancorp (Nasdaq: BHLB )
|Community Bank System (NYSE: CBU )
|Eagle Bancorp (Nasdaq: EGBN )
|The Bancorp (Nasdaq: TBBK )
|Trustmark Corp. (Nasdaq: TRMK )
Source: Yahoo! Finance; company press releases.
Berkshire Hills, a thrift located in western Massachusetts, would have met earnings expectations if not for $0.17 per share of "non-core" expenses, which included merger costs and other nonrecurring expenses. Nevertheless, the bank voted to maintain its quarterly dividend at $0.17 per share, resulting in a yield around 3%.
Community Bank saw net income rise by 16.5% from the first quarter last year. An acquisition during 2011 helped boost total loans by $460.3 million during the year, and an agreement to purchase 19 branches from First Niagara and HSBC will further expand operations through upstate New York for the Syracuse, N.Y., bank, while adding $218 million in loans and $955 million in deposits.
Eagle Bancorp announced record quarterly income, a 49% increase from the same quarter last year, the 13th consecutive quarter of record income. Total assets were up 29% from the same quarter last year, further strengthening the Maryland bank's balance sheet.
Delaware-based Bancorp increased by 48% over the same quarter last year, driven partially by a 90% increase in prepaid card fees over the same period. On the balance sheet, total assets increased 45% over the same quarter last year, primarily due to deposit growth.
For Trustmark, the acquisition of Florida's Bay Bank expanded the Mississippi bank's operations farther into the Southeast and added more than $200 million in deposits and nearly $100 million in loans. Nonperforming assets declined another 4.2% during the quarter and are down 16.6% since the first quarter of 2011.
Opportunities in regional banks
I like the potential of regional banks, but they may not be for everyone. Earnings are just one thing to consider when choosing an investment, so view these results as a small piece to a much larger puzzle. In fact, a bank similar to the ones here is featured prominently in our brand-new free report "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors are Buying." To find out which one it is, get your copy today before it's too late.