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Regions Financial Q4: The Plan Is Working -- and Lifting Profits

By Eric Volkman - Updated Feb 2, 2018 at 5:45PM

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Good discipline with costs has lifted the bank's results.

Like many of its banking industry peers, Alabama-based Regions Financial (RF 5.81%) recently released its fourth-quarter and 2017 results. On average, analysts were expecting the company to show double-digit growth in net profit on a year-over-year basis, and total revenue growth of 4%.

The bank more or less came in on target. Here's a look at its quarterly and annual figures.

Cut and save

For the quarter, Regions Financial's adjusted total revenue climbed 6% to $1.47 billion, while its net profit advanced by 14% to $319 million ($0.27 per share). The company delivered a modest surprise on the top line, as analysts were expecting $1.44 billion. Net profit was broadly in line with expectations.

Regions financial card promo

Image source: Regions Financial.

Throughout the year, the bank did a good job limiting growth in expenses, which for the entirety of fiscal 2017 only rose by 1% from 2016. This contributed to net profit growth of 8% to $1.16 billion on an increase in total revenue of 4% to almost $5.87 billion.

What didn't rise, on the other hand, was Regions' total deposits and its loan book: Both declined by around 1.5% across the one-year period ended Dec. 31.

Much of the saving-and-profiting dynamic comes down to rationalizations. The company has closed branches and laid off workers since being burned in last decade's financial crisis; like other prominent regional lenders such as PNC Financial Services and SunTrust, it required a multibillion-dollar government bailout to stay solvent.

At the end of last September, Regions' branch count stood at 1,489, well below the 2,100-plus it operated in 2007. The company had planned to cut around $400 million in annual expenses through these closures, workforce reductions, and related measures.

Going forward, the company plans to continue the efficiency drive with its recently announced "Simplify and Grow" initiative. In addition to improved efficiency, it plans to grow by making its services easier to use for its customers and finding ways to increase revenue growth.

Keeping pace

Regions' quarterly and annual results didn't blow anyone away -- no wonder the stock basically traded sideways in the days after they were announced.

But investors shouldn't lose heart. It's encouraging that the bank keeps managing to squeeze more profit out of what it has. And although its 64% efficiency ratio for Q4 might seem high at first blush, it actually beats PNC's latest quarterly figure (72%) and is a shade better than SunTrust's (66%).

Regions also has a sensible and, in my opinion, achievable plan for future growth. It's attractively priced, if not a screaming bargain: Its one-year forward P/E is basically in line with both PNC's and SunTrust's. It's only marginally more expensive when we compare the five-year PEG ratios of the three banks.

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Stocks Mentioned

Regions Financial Corporation Stock Quote
Regions Financial Corporation
$19.49 (5.81%) $1.07
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Stock Quote
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
$162.84 (4.52%) $7.04
SunTrust Banks, Inc. Stock Quote
SunTrust Banks, Inc.

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