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Expanding its merchant acquiring services, Total System Services Inc. (TSS - Analyst Report) announced the renewal of its long-term contract with the leading Washington-based Columbia State Bank. However, the details of the alliance remain undisclosed.

Columbia State Bank is a wing of Columbia Banking System Inc. (COLB - Snapshot Report), operating 74 branches in Washington and 25 outlets in Oregon. In 2012, Puget Sound Business Journal recognized the bank as Washington’s best workplace for the sixth consecutive year. Additionally, Forbes mentioned Columbia State Bank as one of America’s Best Banks for the second consecutive year in 2012.

On the other hand, Total System continues to explore new market opportunities while retaining the older ones. Of late, the company has been investing to become a one-stop platform for all kinds of merchant and issuer solutions through its advanced services and technology upgrades. Holding Columbia State Bank’s network further enhances the company’s position in the US and accentuates its operating and competitive leverage.

Alongside, the company has been strengthening its clientele by offering customized and flexible processing solutions to all its partners. As a result, Total System has been witnessing improvement in its financials over the past few quarters based on its steady fundamental growth initiatives, primarily in the merchant acquiring space.

Additionally, the company is making efforts to tap opportunities in the recovering markets through high-grade technology. This is reflected in the improved transaction volumes and higher accounts on file along with lower-than-expected margin decline since the formation of TSYS Merchant Solutions (TMS) and increased client activity. Such growth-driving factors encouraged management to produce an optimistic guidance for 2013.

Total System carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), while Columbia Banking System holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other strong performers in the financial sector include Euronet Worldwide Inc. (EEFT - Snapshot Report) and Moody’s Corp. (MCO - Analyst Report), both of which carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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