Why StellarOne Shares Had a Stellar Day

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of StellarOne (NASDAQ: STEL  ) , a commercial, mortgage, and wealth management bank servicing small and medium-sized businesses in Virginia, jumped as much as 20% after agreeing to be purchased by Union First Market Bancshares (NASDAQ: UBSH  ) .

So what: Under the terms of the agreement, StellarOne shareholders will receive 0.9739 shares of Union First Market which, as of yesterday's close, equated to $19.50 per share, or a 20.2% premium. The combined entity will become the largest community banking institution in Virginia with $7.1 billion in assets and $5.8 billion in deposits. The synergies expected to be realized from this merger should add to Union First Market's bottom line in 2014 according to management.

Now what: If there were a sector riper for industrywide consolidation, it'd be regional banking. Although many small-to-mid-sized banks have recovered nicely from the recession, many are still struggling to bring in new deposits and generate loans because of tough peer-to-peer competition, and cash-strapped consumers having difficulty navigating a high unemployment and higher tax environment. Consolidation really makes sense for many smaller banks like StellarOne. I can't say I'm thrilled that it's an all-stock deal as that leaves some downside risk in shares from today's value for StellarOne shareholders, but it nonetheless should add value from Friday's close when all is said and done.

Craving more input? Start by adding StellarOne to your free and personalized Watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

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