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Sierra Bancorp Upped to Strong Buy

Zacks Equity Research

On Aug 14, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Sierra Bancorp (BSRR) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Sierra Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong second-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, this bank holding company has delivered an average earnings beat of 18.7% in the last 4 quarters. The expected earnings growth rate for this stock for 2013 is 33.6%.

The company reported second-quarter results on Jul 22 with earnings per share of 27 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 92.9%. Further, it beat the prior-year quarter earnings of 18 cents by 50.0%. Robust results for the reported quarter were primarily aided by a substantial reduction in provision for loan losses. This was partly offset by lower non-interest as well as net interest income.

Credit quality continues to exhibit an improvement for Sierra Bancorp. The provision for loan losses was $0.8 million compared with $1.1 million in the prior-year quarter. Net charge-offs fell 78.1% to $1.5 million in the quarter.

However, on the downside, net interest income fell 2.2% year over year to $12.3 million. Net interest margin was 4.04%, down 21 basis points from the year-ago quarter. Non-interest income declined 2.4% year over year to $4.0 million. Non-interest expense rose 2.2% from the year-ago period to $10.7 million.

Following second-quarter 2013 results, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 23.8% to 78 cents per share on the back of upward revisions in both estimates over the last 30 days. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 13.7% to 83 cents per share, with both the estimates moving north over the same time period.

Other Stocks to Consider

Apart from Sierra Bancorp, other stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 include Banner Corporation (BANR), Washington Federal Inc. (WAFD) and WSFS Financial Corp. (WSFS).

Read the Full Research Report on WAFD

Read the Full Research Report on WSFS

Read the Full Research Report on BSRR

Read the Full Research Report on BANR

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