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On Jul 27, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Flushing Financial Corp. (FFIC - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Flushing Financial has been witnessing rising earnings estimates following the announcement of strong second-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, this regional bank has a long-term earnings growth forecast of 7.0%.

Flushing Financial reported second-quarter 2013 results on Jul 23. Core earnings per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 13.8% and the year-ago earnings by 6.5%. Results benefited from higher fee income and a slight decline in operating expenses, partially offset by a drop in net interest income.

Net interest income fell 2.6% year over year to $37.3 million due to a 7.5% drop in total interest and dividend income. However, non-interest income almost doubled to $2.2 million. Furthermore, non-interest expense fell marginally to $20.2 million.

Further, asset quality during the quarter witnessed improvement. Provision for loan losses declined 30.0% year over year to $3.5 million. Further, net loan charge-offs were $2.7 million, down 54.0% from the prior-year quarter.

Moreover, during the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 8.9% to $1.22 per share. Similarly, for 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 7.9% to $1.37 per share over the same time period.

A positive earnings surprise, along with favorable estimate revisions made way for the rank upgrade.

Other Stocks to Consider

While we prefer Flushing Financial, other banks carrying a Zacks Rank #1 include Enterprise Financial Services Corp. (EFSC - Snapshot Report), Banner Corporation (BANR - Snapshot Report) and First Interstate Bancsystem Inc. (FIBK - Snapshot Report).

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