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On Jan 7, 2014, Zacks Investment Research upgraded CIT Group Inc. (CIT - Analyst Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

CIT Group has been witnessing rising earnings estimates following the announcement of impressive third-quarter results and strong capital deployment activities. Moreover, this finance company’s earnings growth rate is expected to be 223.8% for 2013.

CIT Group reported third-quarter results on Oct 22. Earnings per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5.3%. Results benefited from increased revenues as well as lower-than-expected operating expenses. Further, credit quality was a mixed bag, while capital ratios remained strong during the quarter.

Total net revenue was $462.3 million, compared with negative net revenue of $42.5 million in the prior-year quarter. The significant improvement was driven by growth in net finance revenue as well as other income.

Further, operating expenses (excluding restructuring costs) were $232.2 million, down 1.3% from $235.2 million in the prior-year quarter.

Since Jun 2013, CIT Group repurchased approximately 1.1 million shares worth $52.1 million. Additionally, in Oct 2013, the company resumed payment of its quarterly cash dividend by declaring a quarterly payout of 10 cents per share. The dividend was paid on Nov 29, 2013 to shareholders of record as of Nov 15.

Additionally, over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased by a penny to $3.65 per share. Similarly, for 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate nudged up one cent to $4.10 per share over the same time period.

Other Stocks to Consider

While we prefer CIT Group, other finance stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 include Capital City Bank Group Inc. (CCBG - Snapshot Report), BofI Holding, Inc. (BOFI - Snapshot Report) and Hanmi Financial Corporation (HAFC - Snapshot Report).

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