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United Community Banks Upped to Strong Buy

Zacks Equity Research

On Jan 2, 2014, Zacks Investment Research upgraded United Community Banks, Inc. (UCBI) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

United Community Banks has been witnessing rising earnings estimates driven by announcement of the impending TARP repayments and strong third-quarter results. Moreover, this bank holding company has a long-term earnings growth rate of 8.0%.

On Dec 30, 2013, United Community Banks declared it has received regulatory approval for redemption of $180 million in Series B preferred stock issued under the U.S. Treasury's TARP Program and $16.8 million in Series A and Series D preferred stock. Notably, the company completed the first phase of this plan by redeeming $75 million of the TARP preferred stock on Dec 27, 2013, and plans to redeem the remaining balance of $105 million by mid-Jan 2014.

On Oct 24, 2013, United Community Banks declared third-quarter earnings of 21 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10.5%. Better-than-expected results were attributable to top-line growth and decline in operating expenses. Moreover, the company witnessed a year-over-year surge in loan and deposits and credit quality improved as well.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased nearly 1% to $4.47 per share over the last 90 days. For 2014, the Estimate surged 22.0% to $1.11 per share over the same time frame.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other bank holding stocks worth considering include First Bancorp (FBNC), State Bank Financial Corporation (STBZ) and First NBC Bank Holding Company (NBCB). All these carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Read the Full Research Report on NBCB
Read the Full Research Report on UCBI
Read the Full Research Report on FBNC
Read the Full Research Report on STBZ

Zacks Investment Research