Back to top

Analyst Blog

On Feb 22, Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Financial Holdings Inc. to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

First Financial has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of strong fourth-quarter 2012 results. Moreover, this well-known integrated financial solutions provider delivered positive earnings surprises in the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 26.6%. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 7.5%    

First Financial reported fourth-quarter results on Jan 24. Earnings per share came in at 41 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents by 32.3% and prior-quarter earnings of 34 cents by 20.6%.

Earnings were primarily aided by solid top-line growth of 5.9% and a 4.4% decrease in interest expense.

On Feb 20, First Financial entered into a merger agreement with SCBT Financial Corporation to form a combined entity. Upon completion of the deal, the combined company will have about $8.3 billion in total assets, $6.9 billion in total deposits and $6.1 billion in total loans. The agreement is anticipated to close in the third quarter of 2013, subject to certain customary conditions.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 increased 4.5% to $1.16 per share as most of the estimates were revised higher over the last 30 days. For 2014, 2 of the 7 estimates were revised higher over the same time frame, lifting the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 6.5% to $1.14 per share.

Other Stocks to Consider

Besides First Financial, other stocks in the same sector with a Zacks Rank #1 include Riverview Bancorp Inc. (RVSB) and Center Bancorp Inc. .

Please login to or register to post a comment.

New to Zacks?

Start Here

Zacks Investment Research


Are you a new Zacks Member or a visitor to

Top Zacks Features

My Portfolio Tracker

Is it Time to Sell?

One of the most important steps you can take today is to set up your portfolio tracker on Once you do, you'll be notified of major events affecting your stocks and/or funds with daily email alerts.

More Zacks Resources

Zacks Rank Home - Evaluate your stocks and use the Zacks Rank to eliminate the losers and keep the winners.

Mutual Fund Rank Home - Evaluate your funds with the Mutual Fund Rank for both your personal and retirement funds.

Stock/Mutual Fund Screening - Find better stocks and mutual funds. The ones most likely to beat the market and provide a positive return.

My Portfolio - Track your Portfolio and find out where your stocks/mutual funds stack up with the Zacks Rank.

Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers for Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers

Company Symbol Price %Chg
PLANAR SYST… PLNR 4.48 +6.16%
BITAUTO HOL… BITA 81.71 +5.12%
CHINA BIOLO… CBPO 48.00 +3.49%
CTPARTNERS… CTP 16.49 +3.19%
STRATTEC SE… STRT 73.90 +3.15%