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After holding no better than a three-star rank for the past year, enough top-performing CAPS members have turned bullish on New York Community Bancorp (NYSE:NYB) recently to upgrade it to a more formidable four stars. A total of 191 members have given their opinion on the regional bank, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

More investors are questioning the systemic risk posed by larger banks and are instead beginning to eye the potential of smaller banks like New York Community Bancorp. While other financial companies such as AIG (NYSE:AIG), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Citigroup (NYSE:C) were filling their coffers with government bailout money, New York Community Bancorp was among the banks, like Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ:HCBK), that didn't take any -- and it's managed to get along well without it. Its third-quarter GAAP earnings jumped nearly 70% over last year, while net interest income rose 24%, to $226 million, helped by a year-over-year increase of nearly 0.5 percentage points in its net interest margin.

CAPS members also like the strong dividend the company pays, compared with those of larger banks like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) or BB&T (NYSE:BBT). It's currently yielding in the ballpark of 8% and, although some are concerned about its high payout ratio, the company says it's committed to maintaining the dividend. CAPS members also like the conservative assets that New York Community carries on its books. With many of its loans having relatively small loan-to-value ratios, investors believe any potential losses would be limited.

Do you think New York Community Bancorp deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock recently upgraded his craps strategy with a slick play on the hard ways. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. The Fool's disclosure policy would love to find somewhere to buy Flubber.