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MB Financial Acquisition Makes Fifth Third A Buy, Wedbush Says In Upgrade

Hannah Genig

Wedbush upgraded Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ: FITB) and outlined its projections for the bank's growth potential in the wake of its acquisition of MB Financial (NASDAQ: MBFI).

The Analyst

Analyst Peter Winter upgraded Fifth Third from Neutral to Outperform and increased the price target from $31 to $34.

The Thesis

The acquisition of MB Financial appears beneficial, Winter said in the upgrade note. (See the analyst's track record here.)

 “MBFI is very [complementary] given very little commercial banking overlap and FITB has a stronger consumer bank; but MBFI has better branch locations,” the analyst said. 

The deal increases Fifth Third's share in Chicago, its largest market, Winter said. As a merged entity, Fifth Third will rank No. 2 in retail deposits, No. 4 in total deposits and No. 2 in middle-market banking in the Chicago area, he said.

In order to reduce the risk of customer and employee attrition, Fifth Third will retain MB Financial’s senior management and bankers, the analyst said. 

The Fifth Third-MB tie-up is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 and generate $255 million in pretax savings, Winter said. 

“Management identified $100 million in cost saves from legacy FITB with most of it being realized in 1Q19. Plus there is approximately 40 to 50 percent of earnings to be realized from its original $800 million target on [the bank's profit improvement program] Project NorthStar."

A run-off of commercial loans — $5 billion over two years — is in the rearview mirror, making Fifth Third's year-over-year comparisons easier and reducing its credit risk in the next downturn, according to Wedbush. 

Price Action

Fifth Third shares were up 0.65 percent at $29.62 at the time of publication Tuesday, while MB Financial shares were 0.17 percent higher at $48.54. 

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Latest Ratings for FITB

Date Firm Action From To
Sep 2018 Wedbush Upgrades Neutral Outperform
Jul 2018 BMO Capital Maintains Market Perform Market Perform
Jul 2018 UBS Upgrades Sell Neutral

View More Analyst Ratings for FITB
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

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