I have long touted Community Banks as an ancillary play on the strength of the US Midwest agriculture markets. As we enter Spring planting season in the upper Midwest Corn production commodity prices appear to be at solid levels and while farmers are rarely optimistic this appears to be the potential for a good year despite record high input prices. While all of the ag chemical, equipment suppliers, and fertilzer cos. have had a nice run the past several months the local community banks have moved little. My personal opinion is that some of these banks are better common stock plays than the money center names. For example, Today after market close:
First Busey Corp. (NASDAQ: BUSE) reported Q1 EPS of $0.09, $0.03 better than the analyst estimate of $0.06.
As the local economies benefit from strong agricultural earnings some of these local banks should see better times. Another name I like in this sector is Commerce Bankshares (NASDAQ:CBSH). I am long BUSE.