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Bank-Stock Winners in Unlikely State: Georgia

Stocks in this article: SNV STI WFC

ATLANTA ( TheStreet) -- SunTrust (STI) and Synovus Financial (SNV) stand out as winners among Georgia's 301 banks and savings and loans even as the state is known for producing the highest number of failures since the beginning of 2008.

Big banks with subsidiaries in Georgia also include Wells Fargo (WFC) and BB&T (BBT).

Shares of SunTrust, which dominates Georgia banking, have risen 41% this year, compared with the S&P 500 Financials Index's 15% increase. The broader S&P 500 Index has climbed 7%. Synovus, which is consolidating its 30 bank charters by mid-year, has soared 68%.

Wells Fargo's Georgia subsidiary is Wachovia Card Services, which is very strongly capitalized and has fared better through the crisis than many other credit card banks. Its net charge-off ratio (actual loan losses) was 8.56% for 2009, compared with an aggregated 9.5% for the U.S. industry, according to the FDIC. Wells Fargo's shares have climbed 20% this year.

Here's a list of the 10 largest Georgia-based banks, along with key 2009 metrics and financial-strength ratings.

Georgia banks continue shakeout

The fourth-quarter banks and thrifts analysis by Ratings, the most recently available data, highlights 24 undercapitalized institutions, most with critically poor loan quality. Half of them received "recommended" ratings of B-plus or better.

Banking consolidation in Georgia has stretched into 2010, with seven failures so far this year and a total of 37 since the beginning of 2008, the most for any state. Illinois follows with 25, California with 24 and Florida with 22.

Large banks that have taken advantage of failures to gain market share in the state include Regions Financial (RF), which assumed all the deposits of Integrity Bank of Alpharetta when it failed in August 2008, and BB&T, which took over the deposits of Haven Trust Co. of Duluth when it was shuttered in December.

Previous bank-and-thrift failures are detailed in's interactive bank failure map:


The bank-failure map is color-coded, with states having the greatest number of failures highlighted in red, and states with no failures in gray. Hover your mouse over a state enables you to see the combined 2008-2009 totals for each state. Click on the state to open a detailed map pinpointing the locations with additional information for each bank failure.

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