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Should I Do It? Banking on 1st Source

1st Source (SRCE) is a stock that's been bashed lately by the market, along with many other lenders.

The company has about 70 branches in Michigan and Indiana, but more than half of the bank's loans are in the form of financing offered to buyers of aircraft, autos, trucks and construction equipment.

1st Source is attempting to boost its retail presence through the proposed $135 million acquisition of Fina Bancorp, announced Feb. 20. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter, will add 26 branches and $600 million of assets to the company's coffers.

1st Source shares are down 20.1% year to date, closing Tuesday at $25.69. But a group of six company insiders, led by Chairman Christopher J. Murphy III, whose family owns about 38% of 1st Source, have not taken the fall lightly, spending about $575,000 to buy nearly 23,000 shares since February.

With that in mind, I'm here to answer readers' questions: Should I do it? Is 1st Source a buy at current levels, or should investors look at other alternatives?

The company posted solid first-quarter results April 26, led by 11% year-over-year loan growth and improving credit quality. 1st Source earned 37 cents a share, compared with 34 cents in the previous year (excluding one-time gains).

These solid trends in the company's core capital finance business could continue into the second half of the year, based on last week's strong monthly factory orders and Institute of Supply Management manufacturing data.

Before the scheduled closing of the Fina acquisition, about 54% of 1st Source's loans were capital leases, while 23% were mortgages. Another 18% were commercial and agricultural business loans, while the remaining 5% were consumer loans.

By shifting its focus toward the consumer side with Fina, 1st Source can diversify its $2.7 billion loan book, should capital spending decline and overall economic growth continue to slow down.

To watch David Peltier's video take of this column, click here .

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