Bullish on Tax Reform, Top Analyst Raises Price Targets on Banks

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It’s the million-dollar question, and one proposal that the administration does not want to fail on: Getting some sort of tax reform through congress and approved before the end of the year. The tax cut bill that the House passed differs significantly from the Senate version in several areas, including the timing and permanence of the tax cuts and its treatment of the Affordable Care Act. While there has been the usual partisan grumbling and saber-rattling, it appears, at least on the surface, that compromise is possible.

In a new research report, analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey are updating their price targets on stocks in their banking coverage universe to reflect the potential for tax reform passing. They also feel that the macroeconomic outlook could be more optimistic than many currently see.

We screened the SunTrust coverage for Buy-rated stocks with raised price objectives. We found four that look like solid bets now.

BB&T

SunTrust has remained very positive on this stock. BB&T Corp. (NYSE: BBT) is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the United States, with $220.3 billion in assets and market capitalization of $37.0 billion as of September 30, 2017.

Building on a long tradition of excellence in community banking, BB&T offers a wide range of financial services including retail and commercial banking, investments, insurance, wealth management, asset management, mortgage, corporate banking, capital markets and specialized lending. The company operates over 2,100 financial centers in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

Investors are paid a solid 2.82% dividend. The SunTrust price target for the shares was raised to $54 from $52. That compares with a Wall Street consensus price target of $49.15. The shares traded Wednesday morning at $49.00.

Regions Financial

This smaller banking play could do well next year as rates continue to rise. Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF) has $123 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage, and insurance products and services. It serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 1,900 ATMs.

The company’s lending portfolio focuses primarily on residential mortgages, home equity loans, commercial mortgages and commercial and industrial (C&I) loans. A C&I loan is a loan to a business rather than a loan to an individual consumer. These short-term loans may have an interest rate based on the LIBOR rate or prime rate and are secured by collateral owned by the business requesting the loan.

Investors are paid a 2.3% dividend. The $18 SunTrust price target was raised to $19. The consensus target is $6.08. The shares were last seen trading at $16.45.

Texas Capital BancShares

This leading midcap bank resides in a very strong area of the country economically. Texas Capital BancShares Inc. (NASDAQ: TCBI) is the parent company of Texas Capital Bank, a commercial bank that delivers highly personalized financial services to businesses and entrepreneurs. Headquartered in Dallas, the bank has full-service locations in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. With all those market showing outstanding growth, and economies stronger than much of the country, the opportunities for a local bank run by well-known Texans is huge.

Many Wall Street analysts see the company as a top pick, given loan growth and exposure to pending rate hikes as much of the loans are floating rate and C&I loans.

SunTrust raised its price target to $100 from $95, and the consensus target is $91.29. The stock traded at $90.80.

Zions Bancorp

This is another top regional that the SunTrust team likes now, and it is a top play in the western United States. Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ: ZION) offers community banking services, such as small and medium-sized business and corporate banking; commercial and residential development, construction and term lending; retail banking; treasury cash management and related products and services; and residential mortgage servicing and lending.

The company also provides trust and wealth management services; capital markets services, including municipal finance advisory and underwriting; and investment services. And it offers personal banking services to individuals, including home mortgages, bank cards, other installment loans, home equity lines of credit, checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit of various types and maturities, safe deposit facilities, direct deposits and Internet and mobile banking services.

Shareholders are paid a 1.33% dividend. The SunTrust price objective was raised from $53 to $57, and the consensus target is much lower at $50.87. Shares were trading at $49.80.

These four top banks are still offering investors upside potential despite an extremely large run in the sector. It may make sense to buy partial positions and see how the fourth-quarter results come in and how the tax reform bill progresses.