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On May 4, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Pacific Continental Corp. (PCBK - Snapshot Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Why the Upgrade?

Pacific Continental has been witnessing rising earnings estimates based on strong first-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, this regional bank delivered positive earnings surprises in 3 of the last 4 quarters with an average beat of 25.30%.

Pacific Continental reported first-quarter 2013 results on Apr 24. Earnings came in at 19 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a nickel and the year-ago earnings by 26.7%. Results were primarily aided by solid top-line growth on the back of higher net interest income, partially offset by an increase in expenses. A decrease in non-interest income was also a headwind.

Net interest income climbed 6.0% year over year to $13.1 million. However, non-interest income fell 11.8% to $1.3 million. Further, non-interest expenses rose 23.5% year over year to $10.8 million.

The asset quality of the company improved in the quarter. The allowance for loan losses was 1.72% of total loans, down 20 basis points year over year. Further, nonperforming loans were 0.74% of total loans, down 230 basis points year over year. Nonperforming assets were 1.71% of total assets, down 101 basis points year over year

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 rose 1.3% to 81 cents over the last 30 days based on 2 upward estimate revisions. Over the same time period, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 moved up 1.1%.

Other Stocks to Consider

While we prefer Pacific Continental, other banks carrying a Zacks Rank #1 include CU Bancorp (CUNB - Snapshot Report), TriCo Bancshares (TCBK - Snapshot Report) and Preferred Bank (PFBC - Snapshot Report).

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