Lending to small businesses is finally starting to pick up, but it's not the big banks that are loosening the purse strings. Smaller, regional banks have stepped up to the plate, loaning out funds to small companies starved for capital for the past few years -- and they're making money doing it.
Increased lending = bigger profits
While the megabanks have cut back on lending by nearly 5% this year, regionals have increased their activity by almost 10%. Banks like Comerica
Midwestern banks are thankful for the increased business, which allowed these three to report stellar numbers for their Q2 earnings reports. They note, however, that the sputtering economy could quickly put a damper on the rise in commercial lending. Small businesses are still jittery about the business climate, as are the bankers themselves. Huntington's CEO notes that his bank, like its commercial clients, will likely postpone any large investments until economic headwinds subside.
One Fool's take
It looks to me as if these regional banks are shrewdly gauging economic indicators and using that knowledge to their advantage. They seem to be working with the business community in building their loan portfolios, and taking advantage of the big banks' reluctance to loan to small companies. At the same time, they are cautious, knowing that the economy could flip-flop at any moment. These banks have also used acquisitions and cost-reduction measures to make up for income stifled by the current low-interest environment. For investors tired of the shenanigans being uncovered every day in the megabank sector, regionals must seem like a breath of fresh air.
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