Mostly Regional: Top 25 U.S. Bank Stocks

by: David Hunkar

Bank Director magazine has published the results of the 2009 Bank Performance Scorecard which ranks the top 150 banks in the U.S.

In an article titled “Home Run Hitters: Results of the 2009 Bank Performance Scorecard” the magazine noted:

“In what’s been one of the toughest years in banking, institutions that played it fiscally conservative ended up batting a thousand on our annual performance rankings.

Glancing at the performance rankings of the nation’s largest 150 banks this year, it’s not hard to spot trouble. Nearly half of the banks lost money over a 12-month period ended June 30, 2009, a cruel reminder that many financial institutions are still paying dearly for the shaky underwriting conducted during the credit bubble earlier this decade.

Yet a look at the top banks tells a different story. Despite the upheaval of bank balance sheets across America, there are many financial institutions still going strong, especially ones that adhere to a basic formula for successful banking: lend money to low-risk borrowers, keep a lid on expenses, and dominate local market share.

Once again, plain vanilla banking won out over the growth-at-any-cost mentality, according to our annual Bank Performance Scorecard. Based on measurement criteria and analysis complied by Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, a New York-based investment banking firm that specializes in the financial services industry, the Scorecard usually includes repeat performers that generate high ranks in boom times and bust.”

The following criteria were used to rank the banks:

  • Banks must have assets of $3B and higher
  • Profitability
  • Capital Adequacy
  • Asset Quality

The data from the last two quarters of 2008 and the first two quarters of last year were analyzed for this review.

Top 25 U.S. Bank Stocks from Bank Director’s 2009 Bank Performance Scorecard:

Rank Bank Name Ticker Tier 1 Ratio %
1 First Financial Bankshares FFIN 17.36
2 Bank of the Ozarks OZRK 15.74
3 Glacier Bancorp GBCI 14.41
4 Westamerica Bancorp WABC 14.57
5 Republic Bancorp RBCAA 16.75
6 Bank of Hawaii Corp BOH 12.56
7 International Bancshares Corp IBOC 16.64
8 1st Source Corp SRCE 15.62
9 CVB Financial Corp CVBF 15.10
10 Signature Bank SBNY 15.26
11 Northern Trust Corp NTRS 12.60
12 Trustmark Corp TRMK 13.50
13 NBT Bancorp NBTB 11.00
14 Community Trust Bancorp CTBI 12.92
15 Capitol Federal Financial CFFN 22.90
16 State Street Corp STT 14.49
17 SVB Financial Group SIVB 13.89
18 BancFirst Corp BANF 13.12
19 Oriental Financial Group OFG 14.62
20 Bank of New York Mellon Corp BK 12.48
21 FirstMerit Corp FMER 11.38
22 Hudson City Bancorp HCBK 20.67
23 Simmons First National Corp SFNC 13.58
24 UMB Financial Corp UMBF 13.40
25 Cullen/Frost Bankers CFR 10.91

First Financial (NASDAQ:FFIN) of Texas ranked No.1 in the Scorecard this year. The bank operates 50 locations in west and north Texas. First Financial bankers know their customers well and can detect problems with loans in the early stages. The bank was ranked high consistently, especially in profitability measures. Currently FFIN pays a 2.66% dividend.

Bank of the Ozarks (NASDAQ:OZRK) based in Arkansas, jumped from 12th rank last year to second rank this year. Ozarks has 72 branches in Arkansas, metropolitan Dallas, and the Texarkana metropolitan area. Bank of the Ozarks got $75M from the TARP in 2008 but repaid it in the last quarter of 2009. The current yield of OZRK is 1.91%.

Last year’s No.1 bank in the Scorecard, Montana-based Glacier Bancorp (NASDAQ:GBCI), came in third this year. Glacier experienced a rise in nonperforming assets which reached 3.92% in the 2nd quarter of 2009. The higher NPAs were due to the deterioration in its construction and development portfolio in Boise, ID. However Glacier raised $78M in an equity offering in 4Q 2008 during the credit crisis and is well capitalized to weather the storm.

Westamerica Bancorp (NASDAQ:WABC) of San Rafael, California and Republic Bancorp (NASDAQ:RBCAA) of Louisville, Kentucky took the 4th and 5th spots this year.

You can download the complete 2009 Bank Performance Scorecard results here (pdf).