BMO raises FNB Corp. to Outperform

|By:, SA News Editor

"Although EPS likely declined 2% in 2013, we believe it was for the right reasons as FNB Corp. (FNB) was making investments through acquisitions in higher-growth markets (Cleveland and Maryland area) and hiring people to help build out those franchises."

"We expect better operating leverage in late 2014 and into 2015 as the expense headwinds are largely built into the run rate and all the new hires and acquisitions should be fully integrated. FNB has also been consistently generating above-average mid- to high-single-digit organic loan growth driven by market shares gains. Also of note, FNB’s capital raise at the end of October ($58 million in common and $115 million in preferred) strengthened the capital ratios and better positioned the firm to increase its dividend."

Firm boosts shares to Outperform from Market Perform, with a $15 target (previous $14). Shares closed at $12.30 on Monday.