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On Jul 6, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Capital City Bank Group Inc. (CCBG - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Capital City Bank has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong first-quarter 2013 results. The company recorded earnings as compared with loss in the prior-year quarter. Moreover, this well-known commercial and retail banking products and services provider delivered average earnings surprise of 291.7% in the last 4 quarters.

Capital City Bank reported its first-quarter results on Apr 22 with earnings per share of 5 cents as compared with a loss of 7 cents in the prior-year quarter. However, results were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Robust results for the reported quarter were primarily aided by substantial reduction in provision for loan losses. Moreover, Capital City Bank recorded a strong capital position and a marked improvement in credit quality. The quarter also reflected the company’s prudent expense management.

As of Mar 31, 2013, the ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets reduced to 3.99% from 5.14% in the prior-year quarter. Net charge-offs to average loans ratio also decreased 50 basis points year over year to 1.16%.

Reduced net interest income, which declined 8.3% year over year to $19.9 million, was a headwind.

Following first-quarter 2013 results, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 jumped 6.9% to 31 cents per share over the last 60 days. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate surged 5.7% to 37 cents per share over the same time frame.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides Capital City Bank, other Southeast banks that are worth considering include Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (FFKT - Snapshot Report), Home Bancshares, Inc. (Conway, AR) (HOMB - Snapshot Report) and WesBanco Inc. (WSBC - Snapshot Report). All the 3 companies carry a Zacks Rank #1.

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