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On Apr 3, Zacks Investment Research upgraded CU Bancorp (CUNB - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

CU Bancorp has been witnessing rising earnings estimates based on strong fourth quarter 2012 results. Moreover, this regional bank delivered positive earnings surprises in 2 of the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 195.2%.

CU Bancorp reported fourth-quarter results on Jan 31. Earnings came in at 15 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents as well as the year-ago earnings by 200%. Results were primarily aided by solid top-line growth on the back of higher net interest and non-interest income, partially offset by an increase in expenses.

Net interest income climbed 70% year over year to $11.8 million. Further, non-interest income surged 180% to $1.4 million. Non-interest expenses grew 50% year over year to $9.5 million.

Asset quality of the company improved in the reported quarter. Allowance for loan losses stood at 1.03% of total loans, down 50 basis points year over year. Further, non-accrual loans stood at 1.23% of total loans, down 3 basis points year over year

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 moved up 4% to 79 cents over the last 60 days. Over the same time frame, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 moved up 3%.

Other Stocks to Consider

While we prefer CU Bancorp, other banks carrying a Zacks Rank #1 include Meta Financial Group, Inc. (CASH - Snapshot Report), Flagstar Bancorp Inc. (FBC - Snapshot Report) and First Defiance Financial Corp. (FDEF - Snapshot Report).

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