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ConnectOne Upped to Strong Buy

Zacks Equity Research

On June 26, the Zacks Investment Research upgraded ConnectOne Bancorp, Inc. (CNOB) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

The merger deal between ConnectOne and Center Bancorp, Inc. (CNBC) was recently approved by shareholders of both the companies. Per the deal, ConnectOne will merge with Center Bancorp and the combined entity will operate under the name of ConnectOne Bancorp.

The deal was announced in Jan, 2014. It is expected to close by the end of second quarter or the beginning of third quarter.

ConnectOne’s shareholders will receive 2.6 shares of Center Bancorp for each of their existing shares. Shareholders of ConnectOne will also be entitled to a previously announced quarterly cash dividend of 7.5 cents per share by Center Bancorp. The dividend will be disbursed by the merged entity on Aug 1, to all shareholders of record as on Jul 11.

The deal is anticipated to be accretive to the 2015 earnings of both ConnectOne and Center Bancorp. Further, with the merged unit operating in some of the most flourishing regions of New Jersey, the deal will be beneficial for both companies.

For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for ConnectOne climbed 2.4% to $2.11 per share over the last 60 days. For 2015, the Zacks Consensus Estimate remained unchanged at $1.55 per share over the same time period.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other north-east banks worth considering include S&T Bancorp Inc. (STBA) and Territorial Bancorp Inc. (TBNK). Both these stocks sport the same Zacks Rank as ConnectOne.

Read the Full Research Report on TBNK
Read the Full Research Report on STBA
Read the Full Research Report on CNBC
Read the Full Research Report on CNOB

Zacks Investment Research