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On Aug 3, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Pulaski Financial Corporation (PULB - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Pulaski Financial has been witnessing rising earnings estimates following the announcement of strong fiscal third-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, this regional bank has delivered earnings surprise in the last 4 quarters, with an average beat of 8.2%.

Pulaski Financial reported fiscal third-quarter 2013 results on Jul 30. Earnings per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3.6% and the year-ago earnings by 45.0%. Results benefited from higher fee income and stable operating expenses, partially offset by a drop in net interest income.

Net interest income fell 4.2% year over year to $11.2 million due to a 7.0% drop in interest income. However, non-interest income increased 19.8% to $4.9 million. Furthermore, non-interest expense remained almost stable at $8.8 million.

Moreover, asset quality improved during the quarter. Provision for loan losses declined 40.0% year over year to $1.8 million. Likewise, net charge-offs were $1.8 million, down 43.8% from the prior-year quarter.

Additionally, following the earnings release, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 increased 3.7% to $1.12 per share, over the last 30 days. Similarly, for fiscal 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 9.4% to $1.16 per share over the same time period.

Positive earnings surprises and favorable estimate revisions stimulated the rank upgrade.

Other Stocks to Consider

While we prefer Pulaski Financial, other stocks carrying a Zacks Rank #1 include Washington Federal Inc. (WAFD - Analyst Report), Provident Financial Services, Inc. (PFS - Snapshot Report) and Banner Corporation (BANR - Snapshot Report).

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