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The Strongest and Weakest Illinois Banks

Stocks in this article: NTRS BMO FMBI

Illinois ranks third, tied with Florida, for the largest number of bank or savings and loans failures this year and last. Georgia has the most, with nine, followed by California, with eight.

Illinois' banking industry is less consolidated than some other northern states with large populations, which may have contributed to the failures. New York, for example, had only 203 banks and thrifts chartered with the state as of Dec. 31. Illinois' heavy concentration in manufacturing and its proximity to the troubled Michigan market also creates a hurdle for its banks and thrifts.

To be sure, 80 of 658 Illinois banks and thrifts reporting as of Dec. 31 were assigned financial strength ratings of B-plus (Good Financial Strength) or higher by TheStreet.com Ratings.

Highest grades

The following is a list of 48 institutions rated A-minus (Excellent Financial Strength) or higher. The list is sorted by rating, and then by total assets. Ratings are based on ratios and other data derived from regulatory filings, with capital adequacy, asset quality and profitability carrying the most weight.

Illinois Banks and S&Ls Rated A- or Higher - Dec. 31, 2008 ($Mil)
Highline Financial.

Larger institutions

Most of the institutions rated A-minus or higher are relatively small, as these are the banks and thrifts most likely to maintain higher capital ratios.

The following list includes the same ratios and ratings for the 10 largest Illinois banks and S&Ls:

Largest Ten Illinois Banks and S&Ls
- Dec. 31, 2008 ($Mil)
Highline Financial.

Northern Trust Co. (held by Northern Trust Corp. (NTRS - Get Report) had the strongest earnings performance for any of the large Illinois institutions on the above list, with net income of $808 million for 2008, or a return on average assets (ROA) of 1.2% and a return on equity (ROE) of 21%. Considering its primary role as a private bank, Northern Trust has the strongest asset quality on the list. The holding company was bashed in the press following its capital infusion of $1.6 billion during the fourth quarter via the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as it continued to wine and dine wealthy clients. The holding company has already said it will return the TARP money as quickly as possible.

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