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FDIC-Assisted Deals Losing Their Juice

Stocks in this article: EWBC UMPQ

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Figuring out which regional banks were in line to buy failed competitors from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was a good way for investors to make money at the end of last year, but the strategy may be largely played out.

Certainly it looked that way on Monday, as shares of Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ), a Portland, Ore-based bank, dropped 3.9% on the first trading day after it bought Seattle's EvergreenBank, picking up nearly $473 million in assets and $439 million in deposits.

Analysts at Sterne Agee argued in a report Monday the deal was already priced in. Umpqua's stock had run up some 35% over the past three months, more than twice the return of the KBW Regional Banking ETF (KRE) over the same period.

Other recent FDIC-assisted acquirers that have seen little or no rally in their shares following announced deals include Washington Federal (WFSL), which is down about nine percent since buying Horizon Bank from the FDIC on Jan. 8 and Hancock Holding Co. (HBHC), up just two percent since buying Peoples First Community Bank on Dec. 18.

Columbia Banking System (COLB), which bought Columbia River Bank from the FDIC on Friday, saw its shares open more than seven percent higher on Monday, though it finished the day just 1.2% higher.

"Most of the banks that have good capital levels and been identified as potential acquirers in FDIC-assisted deals have seen their stock prices really rally over the past -- you know, call it six months -- and so now if a deal gets done its really just turning an expectation into a certainty," says Aaron James Deer, analyst at Sandler O'Neill.

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