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On Nov 5, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Northfield Bancorp, Inc. (Staten Island, NY) (NFBK - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Northfield Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates following the announcement of strong third-quarter results. Moreover, this bank has delivered positive earnings surprises in the last 4 quarters, with an average beat of 9.5%.

Northfield Bancorp reported third-quarter 2013 results on Oct 23. Earnings per share of 9 cents surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 7 cents by 28.7%. Results benefited from increased revenues, partially offset by higher operating expenses and a rise in provision for credit losses.

Net interest income rose 13.7% year over year to $19.3 million. Moreover, non-interest income increased 51.3% to $2.6 million. On the flip side, non-interest expense rose 10.7% from the prior-year quarter to $13.3 million.

Further, asset quality was a mixed bag. Nonperforming assets decreased 16.6% from the prior quarter to $20.2 million. However, provisions for loan losses of $0.8 million were up 96.0% sequentially.

Additionally, following the earnings release, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased by a penny to 31 cents per share over the last 30 days. Similarly, for 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate advanced 7.1% to 30 cents 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 Northfield Bancorp, other stocks carrying a Zacks Rank #1 include Investors Bancorp Inc. (ISBC - Snapshot Report), Meta Financial Group, Inc. (CASH - Snapshot Report) and Meridian Interstate Bancorp, Inc. (EBSB - Snapshot Report).

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