On May 10, 2014, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Ameris Bancorp (ABCB) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?
Ameris Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong first-quarter 2014 results, steady organic growth and a healthy capital position. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 8.00%. Further, the company recorded a solid return of 34.1% in a year’s time.
Ameris Bancorp reported its first-quarter results on Apr 22 with earnings of 32 cents per share, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 33 cents by 3.03%. However, earnings came in significantly higher than the prior-year quarter figure of 20 cents.
Results in the reported quarter were primarily driven by rise in revenues and lower provision for loan losses.
Net loans ascended 28.6% year over year, while total deposits grew 20.9%. This reflects organic growth of the company. Non-performing assets as a percent of total assets declined 43 basis points to 2.29%.
On the flip side, a 15.1% rise in operating expenses and a 33.7% increase in interest expenses were recorded.
For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate increased 4.4% to $1.67 per share over the last 60 days. For 2015, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 13.3% to $2.04 per share over the same time period.
Other Stocks to Consider
Apart from Ameris Bancorp, other Southeast banks worth considering include Capital City Bank Group Inc. (CCBG), Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (FFKT) and First Bancorp (FBNC). All of these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).