On Jan 4, we issued an updated research report on Hilltop Holdings HTH. The company’s elevated expense levels and continuous rise in the same, is likely to affect the bottom-line growth. Further, deteriorating performance of its Mortgage Origination segment due to continued fall in loan origination volume is expected to hurt the financials in the quarters ahead.
However, the company is likely to witness higher interest income and easing margin pressure owing to the improving rate environment and an increase in loan demand.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings has remained stable over the last 60 days. However, the same for 2018 have been revised 1% downward over the same time frame. As a result, Hilltop Holdings currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
Shares of Hilltop Holdings have lost 15% in 2017 against the industry’s gain of 3.2%.
Given the concerns surrounding the company and downward estimate revisions, we believe the stock has limited upside potential.
Economic volatility has drastically undermined Hilltop Holdings’ earnings potential. This has deteriorated not only the company’s underwriting capabilities at NLC but also its cash position. Further, the company’s non-interest expenses have been witnessing a constant rise. Though expenses decreased marginally in 2017, it recorded a three-year (2014–2016) CAGR of 21% mainly due to significantly higher compensation and benefits costs. Overall expenses are also anticipated to remain high because of continued investments in franchise.
Furthermore, Mortgage Origination segment’s (23.5% of total income before income taxes during the first nine months of 2017) performance remains a matter of concern. While the segment had been performing decently for the last few years, mortgage volumes have been declining since the fourth-quarter of 2016 mainly due to the interest rate hikes. In 2017, mortgage loan origination volumes were down 6.2% on a year-over-year basis. Moreover, the company expects a similar trend to continue in 2018.
Nevertheless, the pressure on Hilltop Holdings’ net interest margin (NIM) (excluding purchase accounting adjustment) has been easing gradually with an improving rate environment. Although NIM witnessed a declining trend over the past few years, the same improved in 2016 and also during the first nine months of 2017. With the improvement in loan demand and expectations of rate hikes in the future, margins are anticipated to improve further.
Stocks Worth Considering
A few better-ranked stocks in the same space are Capital City Bank Group CCBG, First Bancorp FBNC and Carolina Financial Corporation CARO.
Capital City Bank’s earnings estimate has been revised 2.3% upward for 2017 over the last 60 days. In the past 12 months, the company’s share price has been up 14.7%. It currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
First Bancorp has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Its earnings estimate for 2017 have been revised 3% upward over the last 60 days. The stock has risen 32.3% in the past 12 months.
Carolina Financial also has a Zacks Rank of 2. Its 2017 earnings estimate has been revised 1% upward over the last 60 days. The company’s shares have gained nearly 23.3% in the past 12 months.
Zacks Editor-in-Chief Goes "All In" on This Stock
Full disclosure, Kevin Matras now has more of his own money in one particular stock than in any other. He believes in its short-term profit potential and also in its prospects to more than double by 2019. Today he reveals and explains his surprising move in a new Special Report.
Download it free >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Capital City Bank Group (CCBG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Carolina Financial Corporation (CARO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
First Bancorp (FBNC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Hilltop Holdings Inc. (HTH) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research