Zions Bancorp: 9 Critical Numbers

Given that you clicked on this article, it seems safe to assume you either own stock in Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION  ) or are considering buying shares in the near future. If so, then you've come to the right place. The table below reveals the nine most critical numbers that investors need to know about Zions stock before deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold it.

But before getting to that, a brief introduction is in order. To paraphrase the bank's website, Zions originated as Keystone Insurance and Investment Company, a Utah Corporation, in April 1955. In April 1960, Keystone, together with several individual investors, acquired a 57.5% interest in Zions First National Bank from the Mormon Church. In 1965, the bank's name was changed to Zions Bancorp -- though, it operated as Zions Utah Bancorporation from 1966 to 1987. Zions subsequently went public in January 1966. At present, the Utah-based bank operates over 480 full-service banking offices in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington

As you can see in the table above, Zions is one of a handful of banks that are struggling to emerge completely from the financial crisis. While its nonperforming loans ratio is 13 basis points better than the industry average, at 1.71%, it's still far higher than it should be. In addition, its efficiency ratio exceeds many of the bank's peers, meaning that it costs Zions comparatively more to generate each dollar of revenue. And as a result, its return on equity is far below both the average and the ideal double-digit level that bank investors prefer to see.

On the other hand, the best that can be said about Zions at this point is that it pays out a generous 38% of its earnings via dividends and trades for a relatively paltry 1.19 times tangible book value -- though the latter is far from a bargain in the normal course of things.

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