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10 Small Bank Stocks for Growth

Stocks in this article: C BAC JPM WFC FUBC BNCL ABCB FFCH HFWA FPTB BOFI BMTC TNCC ESSA RF TCB BPFH

10. 1st United Bancorp

Shares of 1st United Bancorp (FUBC - Get Report) of Boca Raton, Fla., closed at $7.08 Friday, down 14% from a year earlier. Based on a consensus 12-month price target of $8.50 among analysts polled by FactSet, the shares have 20% upside potential.

The company had $1.3 billion in total assets as of December 31, and operated 16 branches. 1st United's balance sheet expanded 25% in 2010, as the company purchased the failed Bank of Miami from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in December. 1st United's previous acquisition was the failed Republic Federal Bank, NA of Miami, which was shuttered by the Office of Thrift Supervision in December 2009.

1st United reported net income of $2.2 million, or 9 cents a share, for 2010. Consensus earnings estimates are 12 cents a share in 2011 and 26 cents a share in 2012.

The company raised a net $30.5 million in common equity through a public offering of $5 million shares priced at $6.50, completed in March.

In February, after the company announced its fourth-quarter results, Peyton Green of Sterne Agee reiterated his "buy" rating for the shares with a price target of $7.50, saying that the company would "have more than ample opportunity to sweep up additional FDIC-assisted deals in S. FL given the depth of damage to real estate valuations and the resultant effect on bank loan portfolios."

Green also estimate that "37 banks and thrifts with assets of $20 billion carried Texas ratios greater than 100% in S. FL." That would make for 37 targets for acquirers in the state. The Texas ratio is a bank's ratio of nonperforming assets over the sum of its core capital and loan loss reserves. Considering how easy it is for a bank to lose 50% of a loan balance on a problem credit in a weak real estate market, a Texas ratio of over 100% is a dire situation.

Five of the six analysts covering 1st United Bancorp rate the shares a buy.

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