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First Connecticut Upped to Strong Buy

Zacks Equity Research

On Mar 12, Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Connecticut Bancorp, Inc. (FBNK) to Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

First Connecticut has been witnessing rising earnings estimates owing to strong fourth quarter 2012 results. Moreover, this regional bank delivered positive earnings surprises in 3 of the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 44.4%.

First Connecticut reported fourth-quarter results on Mar 1. Earnings came in at 20 cents per share, significantly outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 6 cents and reversing the year-ago loss of 9 cents. Results were primarily aided by a solid top-line growth, partially offset by a rise in expenses.

Net interest income surged 14.1% year over year to $14.1 million. Further, non-interest income advanced substantially to $4.1 million. Operating expenses grew 1.9% year over year to $13.0 million.

Improvement in asset quality continues to be a major positive for First Connecticut. Provision for allowance for loan losses declined significantly from the prior-year quarter to $0.3 million. Likewise, nonperforming loans stood at 0.76% of total loans, down 20 basis points year over year.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 57.1% to 44 cents per share over the last 30 days. For 2014, over the same time frame, the Zacks Consensus Estimate moved north by 4.4% to 48 cents per share.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides First Connecticut, other regional banks such as The Bancorp Inc. (TBBK), Center Bancorp Inc. (CNBC) and Old National Bancorp. (ONB) carry a Zacks Rank #1 and are worth considering.

Read the Full Research Report on ONB

Read the Full Research Report on TBBK

Read the Full Research Report on FBNK

Read the Full Research Report on CNBC

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