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On May 24, 2013, we reiterated our long-term recommendation on BB&T Corporation (BBT - Analyst Report) at Neutral based on its steady progress on both the organic and inorganic front. However, we remain concerned about the mounting operating expenses along with the company’s wide exposure to problem assets.

Why the Neutral Stance?

BB&T’s first-quarter 2013 earnings came in at $0.69 per share, marginally surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.67. Results were primarily driven by top-line growth and lower provision for credit losses. Moreover, overall credit quality and capital ratios exhibited improvement.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 fell by a penny to $2.87 per share over the last 30 days. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate also went down by a penny to $3.08 per share over the same time frame. Hence, the company currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

BB&T has been actively engaged in making acquisitions over the past few years. This is expected to enhance the company’s banking network, improve its top line and the client delivery system.

Moreover, BB&T is well poised from the capital perspective as a result of its earnings power. The company’s capital ratio remains well above the regulatory requirement.

However, despite clearing the 2013 Stress test, the Federal Reserve rejected BB&T’s capital plan. Although the company received permission to resubmit its capital plan, the initial rejection might act as a setback. Alongside, BB&T’s profitability is expected to be adversely affected by various financial reform laws due to increased costs and fee restrictions.

Further, BB&T is significantly exposed to risks and uncertainties related to its acquisitions. This could adversely affect the operations or results of the company since it diverts management’s attention and resources.

Other Banks to Consider

Some better performing banks include Enterprise Financial Services Corp. (EFSC - Snapshot Report), Old Second Bancorp Inc. (OSBC - Snapshot Report) and First Interstate Bancsystem Inc. (FIBK - Snapshot Report). All these carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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