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Analyst Blog

Shares of Astoria Financial Corporation (AF - Snapshot Report) reached a new 52-week high, touching $12.95 in the second half of the trading session on Aug 15. However, the stock closed at $12.92, reflecting a year-to-date return of 37.6%. The trading volume for the session was 1.3 million shares.

Despite the strong price appreciation, this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) bank has considerable upside left, given its positive estimate revisions over the last 30 days.

Growth Drivers

Astoria Financial’s impressive price performance came on the back of strong second-quarter 2013 results, including positive earnings surprise of 33.33%. The company also maintains a robust capital position in compliance with regulatory guidelines.

On Jul 17, Astoria Financial declared second-quarter adjusted earnings of 16 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 12 cents. Moreover, net income of $15.7 million marked a 22.2% year-over-year increase.

Total non-interest income was 18.6 million, up 20.3% from the year-ago quarter. Further, net loan charge-offs fell to $4.8 million in the reported quarter from $11.8 million in the prior-year quarter.

Tier 1 risk- based capital ratio was 11.56% compared with 14.41% in second-quarter 2012. Further, Tier 1 leverage ratio was 9.53% as against 8.60% in the prior-year quarter.

Astoria Financial has delivered positive earnings surprises in the trailing 4 quarters with an average beat of 15.89%.

Estimate Revisions Show Potency

In the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 10.0% to 55 cents per share. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 9.3% to 59 cents per share over the same time frame.

Apart from Astoria Financial, other banks which are worth considering include Banner Corporation (BANR - Snapshot Report), Flushing Financial Corp. (FFIC - Snapshot Report) and Investors Bancorp Inc. (ISBC - Snapshot Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).