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On January 8, Zacks Investment Research upgraded IberiaBank Corp. (IBKC - Snapshot Report) to Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

IberiaBank has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of its strong third-quarter 2012 results. Moreover, this Southeast American bank delivered positive earnings surprises in the last five quarters with an average beat of 17.7%. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 9.0%.

IberiaBank reported third-quarter (ended September 30) results on October 23, 2012. Non-GAAP earnings per share came in at 83 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 48.2%.

Earnings were primarily aided by a year-over-year growth of 6.3% in net interest income and a 25.4% surge in non-interest income, partially offset by a 10.3% increase in operating expenses.

Further, asset quality at IberiaBank improved considerably. The ratio of nonperforming assets to total assets was 0.81%, down 8 basis points from the prior-year quarter. Allowance for loan losses to loans was 1.10%, down 24 bps year over year.

Total loans as of September 30, 2012, increased 14.8% year over year to $8.2 billion. Moreover, deposits hiked 7.9% year over year to $9.9 billion.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2012 increased 0.8% to $2.62 per share as all the estimates were revised higher over the last 60 days.

Other Stocks to Consider

Other banking stocks that are currently performing well include Cardinal Financial Corp. (CFNL - Snapshot Report) and First Interstate Bancsystem Inc. (FIBK - Snapshot Report). Both carry Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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