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On Nov 24, 2016, we issued an updated research report on Associated Banc-Corp (ASB - Free Report) . Despite mounting expenses and margin compression, the company’s efforts to improve loan and deposit balances are commendable.

Associated Banc-Corp is focused on its organic growth strategy, evident from the consistent growth in loan and deposit balances as well as net interest income (NII) over the past several years. Further, the company anticipates high-single digit annual average loan growth in 2016.

Apart from this, strong credit quality is another positive for Associated Banc-Corp. However, credit quality displayed weakness in the first nine months of 2016, largely due to persistent slump in energy sector loans. We expect improvement in economic conditions and rebound in oil prices to aid asset quality improvement in the upcoming quarters.

Also, we remain encouraged by Associated Banc-Corp’s capital deployment activities. Driven by strong capital position, the company has been enhancing shareholders’ value through regular dividend payments and share buybacks.

Driven by these positives, analysts are bullish on the stock. Over the past 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2016 and 2017 witnessed an upward revision. Further, Associated Banc-Corp shares have gained more than 23%, year-to-date.

Currently, Associated Banc-Corp carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other Stocks That Warrant a Look

Other finance stocks worth considering include Carolina Financial Corporation (CARO - Free Report) , Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (FFKT - Free Report) and Chemical Financial Corporation (CHFC - Free Report) .

Carolina Financial has witnessed an upward earnings estimate revision of 12.9% for the current year, for the past 60 days. Also, its share price is up 47.1% year to date. It currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Farmers Capital Bank also flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 and has witnessed an upward earnings estimate revision of 8.3% for the current year, in the past 60 days. Moreover, its share price is up 28% year to date.

Chemical Financial witnessed an upward earnings estimate revision of 1.1% for the current year over the past 60 days. Also, its share price is up 53.9% year to date. It currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

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