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Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. (CFR - Free Report) reported second-quarter 2017 earnings per share of $1.29, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Moreover, the reported figure was up from $1.11 in the year-ago quarter.

The company’s quarterly results reflect higher revenues. Further, increase in loans and a strong balance sheet position were the positives. However, elevated expenses remained an undermining factor.

Net income available to common shareholders came in at $83.5 million, exceeding the year-ago quarter figure by approximately 20.2%.

Revenue Growth Offsets Escalated Expenses

The company’s total revenue was $295.9 million, up 10.2% from the prior-year quarter. However, it lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $316.4 million.

Net interest income on a taxable-equivalent basis increased 12.1% year over year to $258 million. The increase was primarily attributable to a rise in earning assets in loans and securities, higher yields on loans and increase in cash balances. Moreover, net interest margin increased 13 basis points (bps) year over year to 3.70%, as the Fed’s interest rate hikes led to higher yielding assets.

Non-interest income totaled $81.1 million, up 3.9% from the year-ago quarter. The increase was mainly due to rise in trust and investment management fees.

Non-interest expenses of $188.1 million rose 4.8% year over year. Increase in all the cost components led to higher expenses in the reported quarter.

Strong Balance Sheet

As of Jun 30, 2017, total loans were $12.5 billion, up 2.7% from the previous quarter. Total deposits amounted to $25.6 billion, down 2% sequentially.

Credit Quality: A Mixed Bag

As of Jun 30, 2017, provision for loan losses declined 72% year over year to $8.3 million. Also, net charge-offs, annualized as a percentage of average loans contracted 35 bps year over year to 0.39%. Allowance for loan losses, as a percentage of total loans, was 1.20%, down 9 bps from the prior-year quarter.

However, non-performing assets were $90.2 million, up slightly from the year-ago quarter.

Profitability and Capital Ratios Improve

As of Jun 30, 2017, Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio was 13.59% compared with 12.73% at the end of the prior-year quarter. Total risk-based capital ratio was 15.65%, up from 14.36% as of Jun 30, 2016. Further, leverage ratio increased to 8.61% from 8.13% as of Jun 30, 2016.

Return on average assets and return on average common equity were 1.11% and 11.07%, respectively, compared with 0.99% and 9.70% in the prior-year quarter.

Our Viewpoint

Cullen/Frost reported decent performance in second quarter. Growth in loan balance indicates continued organic growth. Further, the company remains well poised to benefit from easing margin pressure. However, escalating expenses may continue to curb the company’s bottom-line growth. In addition, significant exposure to the risky real estate loans raises concerns.

Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise

Cullen/Frost currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Performance of Other Banks

Higher interest income drove State Street's (STT - Free Report) second-quarter 2017 operating earnings of $1.67 per share, which easily surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.57. Also, the figure was up 14.4% year over year.

Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB - Free Report) reported second-quarter 2017 adjusted earnings per share of 46 cents, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 42 cents. The adjusted figure excludes the impact of a non-recurring item.

Huntington Bancshares Incorporated (HBAN - Free Report) reported a positive earnings surprise of 13.0% in second-quarter 2017. Adjusted earnings per share of 26 cents outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents. Moreover, the figure was higher than the prior-year quarter adjusted earnings of 21 cents. The reported earnings figure excludes FirstMerit acquisition-related expenses of 3 cents per share.

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