On Jan 7, Zacks Investment Research upgraded HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc. (HTBI) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?
HomeTrust Bancshares has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong fiscal first-quarter 2014 (ended Sep 30) results and the company’s steady capital deployment activities. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 8%. Further, HomeTrust Bancshares recorded a solid return of 16.8% in 2013.
In Dec 2013, HomeTrust Bancshares completed the buyback of 5% stock repurchase program, announced in Aug 2013. Notably, 1.04 million shares of common stock were repurchased at an average price of $16.38 per share, with cost totaling approximately $17.1 million.
HomeTrust Bancshares reported its fiscal first-quarter results on Oct 29 with earnings per share of 17 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 10 cents by 70% and rising over twofold from the year-ago earnings of 6 cents.
Robust results for the reported quarter were primarily driven by lower non-interest expenses, which reflected disciplined expense management. Yet, these positives were partially offset by lower top line.
For 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimate increased 1.7% to 61 cents per share, over the last 60 days. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 6.3% to 51 cents per share over the same time period.
Other Stocks to Consider
Besides HomeTrust Bancshares, other Southeast banks that are worth considering include Capital City Bank Group Inc. (CCBG), First Bancorp (FBNC) and State Bank Financial Corporation (STBZ). All 3 banks carry a Zacks Rank #1.