U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 45 mins

Commerce Bancshares Boosts Shareholder Value

Zacks Equity Research

In tune with its efforts to enhance stockholders’ return, mid-west bank Commerce Bancshares, Inc. (CBSH) declared a 5% hike in its quarterly dividend to 22.5 cents per share. The new dividend will be paid on Mar 24 to shareholders of record as of Mar 5.

The company has a record of consistently increasing quarterly dividend. Even during the financial crisis when many banks and financial institution slashed the dividend amount or discontinued dividend payment, Commerce Bancshares not only continued with its payout but managed to increase it as well. Notably, the current payout marks its 46th consecutive yearly increase in quarterly dividend.

Recently, on Jan 14, Commerce Bancshares declared fourth-quarter 2013 earnings per share of 69 cents, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.8%. However, total revenue outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.0% to $271.7 million.

Results reflected a decline in net interest income and higher operating expense, partially offset by lower provision for loan losses and rise in non-interest income. Further, improvement in credit quality and growth in loans and deposits were the tailwinds for the quarter.

As of Dec 31, 2013, cash and due from banks stood at $518.4 million, down 9.5% year over year.

Commerce Bancshares currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). But its dividend paying nature makes it an income pick. Also, a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.30 reflects adequate room for growth going forward.

Apart from Commerce Bancshares, some other financial institutions have increased their dividends in recent times. On Jan 23, Old National Bancorp. (ONB) made a sequential raise of 10.0% in its quarterly cash dividend to 12 cents per share while Lazard Ltd. (LAZ) hiked its quarterly cash dividend by 20% sequentially to 30 cents per share on Jan 29. In Nov 2013, Westamerica Bancorp. (WABC) paid a quarterly cash dividend of 38 cents per share, up 2.7% over its previous pay.

Read the Full Research Report on CBSH
Read the Full Research Report on WABC
Read the Full Research Report on LAZ
Read the Full Research Report on ONB

Zacks Investment Research