(By Rich Bieglmeier) Regional banks might warrant further investor attention following Moody's downgrading 15 major, global banks. Essentially, the ratings agency said that banks that rely on trading profits are headed for difficult times. Instead, the Moody's believes banks that rely more on "stable customer deposits" will have a competitive advantage.
iStock ripped open two regional bank ETFs, iShares Dow Jones US Regional Banks (IAT) and Market Vectors Bank and Brokerage ETF (RKH), to see if we could find any candidates that meet our standards.
Admittedly, we are not experts on banking stocks, but iStock figured that return on investment (ROI), book value, and dividend growth would be a fair way to measure one regional name versus another.
We broke out the trusty stock screener, input the 127 names held by IAT and RKH. Then we asked the computer to tell us which companies have accelerating ROIs, three consecutive years of book value increases, and a positive five-year dividend growth rate.
Believe it or not, that simple criterion narrowed the list to ten bank and thrift names.
Bank of the Ozarks, Inc.
)BOK Financial Corporation
)Commerce Bancshares, Inc
)Community Bank System Inc
)Home Bancshares, Inc
. (Conway, AR) (HOMB
)Independent Bank Corp.
)Prosperity Bancshares Inc.
)Provident Financial Services, Inc.
)UMB Financial Corporation
)United Bankshares Inc.
Of the 10, the three charts iStock likes the most include PFS, UMBI, and UBSI.
Each is trending higher and on the right side of their respective 50 and 200-day moving averages. Additionally, each is experiencing a rising relative strength and their MACD scores are above zero.
UMB Financial Corporation (UMBF) produced the highest scores across the three screening metrics.
The regional bank has 126 branches and 2 wealth management offices in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
The Kansas City, Missouri based UMBF sports a ROI of 10.31%, watched its book value grow from $25.13 in 2009 to $26.25 in 2010, and finished 2011 at $29.49. At the end of the first quarter of 2012, it stands at $29.90.
The company currently pays a dividend of 82 cents per share, representing a yield of 1.70%. UMB Financial has raised its dividend every year since 2003.
The dividend should continue to grow as CEO, Mariner Kemper, says first quarter loan growth up more than 10% versus the same quarter a year ago, and well ahead of loss of 0.5% relative to 1500 peers. It's the eight straight quarter of increases and is a result of market share gains.
Mr. Kemper said management's old-fashioned practices have kept the bank moving forward, even during the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
iStock believes that UMB Financial Corporation (UMBF) is a good fit for conservative investors looking for exposure to the regional banking sector.