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New York Community Bancorp: How to Play It

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even though New York Community Bancorp's (NYB) share price has risen 57% over the past year, its well-supported dividend payout, rising earnings and strong asset quality makes this an excellent stock for long-term investors.

New York Community's shares have a 5.91% dividend yield, based Friday's closing price of 16.93 and a quarterly payout of 25 cents. While there was some concern among investors and analysts over a year ago that the company's dividend wasn't well supported, the company's earnings improvement - springing in part from its government-assisted acquisition of deposits and some assets from AmTrust Bank after its failure in December 2009 - has taken care of that problem.

The company was featured among TheStreet's 10 Banks With Real Earnings Improvement , which homed-in on holding companies with improved earnings irrespective of the reserve releases that have driven earnings increases for most large banks over the past two quarters.

As discussed in a profile of the company as part of TheStreet's Best In Class series, New York Community Bank's traditional focus is on making multifamily loans in the New York City area, concentrating on apartment buildings that are either rent-stabilized or rent-controlled. This particular market niche has led to a remarkably stable track record for minimal loan losses over the years. Another interesting quality of New York Community is that its board of directors is actively involved in assessing the properties collateralizing the company's larger loans. This is not the norm for bank boards, as evidenced by so many regulatory orders handed down through the credit crisis.

Through the credit crisis, New York Community's annualized ratio of net charge-offs to average loans has remained quite low, peaking at 0.26% during the second quarter, compared to the national aggregate net charge-off ratio of 2.64% reported by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

New York Community earned $135.6 million, or 31 cents a share, during the third quarter, increasing from $98.6 million, 28 cents a share, during the third quarter of 2009. The biggest year-over-year improvement was new mortgage banking fee income of reflecting $76.5 million in mortgage banking income.

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