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10 Small Bank Stocks for Growth


3. Beneficial Mutual Bancorp

Shares of Beneficial Mutual Bancorp (BNCL) of Philadelphia closed at $8.45 Friday, down 14% from a year earlier.

Based on a consensus price target of $10.86, the shares have 29% upside potential.

The company had $4.9 billion in total assets as of December 31, with 37 branches in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, in Pennsylvania, and 28 branches in Burlington and Camden Counties, in New Jersey.

As part of "an expense management reduction program after the completion of a comprehensive review of the Company's and Bank's operating cost structure," the company announced on March 23 that it would reduce its workforce by about 4% during the first quarter, taking a charge of about $2.7 million for severance expenses. The bank also said it would consolidate five branches, taking another $1.5 million in expense charges.

Beneficial Mutual Bancorp reported a net loss of $9 million, or 12 cents a share for 2009, mainly because of a $70.2 million provision for loan losses, increasing from $15.7 million in 2009. The consensus estimates are for Beneficial Mutual Bancorp to earn 14 cents a share in 2011 and 31 cents a share in 2012.

On January 29, Laurie Hunsicker of Stifel Nicolaus reiterated her buy rating for Beneficial Mutual Bancorp and raised her price target to $11 from $10.50, based on a strong market for second-step conversions of mutual holding companies. Meanwhile, Sandler O'Neill's Frank Schiraldi cut his rating to "hold" while lowering his price target to $9.50 from $10.

Four of the seven analysts covering Beneficial Mutual Bancorp rate the shares a buy, while the remaining analysts all have neutral ratings.

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