Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc.: Aggressive Growth

| About: Pinnacle Financial (PNFP)
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Pinnacle Financial Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ:PNFP) has gained nearly 70% over the last year, primarily driven by its strong earnings trend. This regional bank has surprised on the Zacks Consensus Estimate in 7 of the last 8 quarters, with an average beat of 66.6%.

Strong fundamentals helped this Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) to reach its 52-week high on August 21. Moreover, a long-term earnings growth projection of 12.5% makes Pinnacle Financial a lucrative pick for growth-seeking investors.

Impressive 2Q Results

On July 17, Pinnacle Financial reported second quarter 2012 earnings of 23 cents per share, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 21 cents by 9.5% and the last year's earnings of 14 cents by 64.3%. The marked improvement was predominantly driven by top line growth, lower operating costs as well as significant fall in provision for loan losses.

Net interest income climbed 6.3% year over year to $40.2 million. Likewise, non-interest income inched up 1.0% to $9.9 million. Moreover, the net interest margin expanded 21 basis points to 3.76%. Further, the company's non-interest expenses declined 1.5% to $33.9 million over the same period.

Credit metrics continued to improve at Pinnacle Financial. Provision for loan losses were $0.6 million, plummeting 90.9% from the year-ago quarter with net charge-offs exhibiting a downward trend as well. Net charge-offs were $2.4 million, declining 72.1% from $8.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

Surge in Earnings Estimates

For 2012, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 9.4% to $1.05 per share in the past 60 days. This implies a year-over-year growth of about 63.9%. For 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimate jumped 5.9% to $1.25 over the same time period. This represents an increase of 19.2% over the prior-year.

Valuation Looks Reasonable

Shares of Pinnacle Financial currently trade at 18.3x 12-month forward earnings, a 13.0% premium to the peer group average of 16.2x. Its price to book ratio of 1.0 is at a 16.7% discount to the peer group median of 1.2. Pinnacle Financial has a trailing 12-month ROE of 5.5%, compared with the peer group average of 7.3%.

Chart Shows Growth Potential

The stock started gaining momentum in March 2011 and has been continuously outperforming its 200 days moving average over the last six months, exhibiting steadfast growth. Moreover, the stock is also trading ahead of the S&P 500 over the same time frame.

Click to enlarge

Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Pinnacle Financial is a bank holding company and conducts its primary operations through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pinnacle National Bank. Incorporated in 2000, the company conducts its businesses through 29 offices in eight Middle Tennessee counties and 3 offices in Knoxville. With a market cap of approximately $663.7 million, Pinnacle Financial competes with Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (NASDAQ:FFKT) and ECB Bancorp Inc. (NYSE:ECBE), among others.