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10 Community Bank M&A Targets

8. Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida

Shares of Seacoast Banking Corp of Florida (SBCF) of Stuart closed at $1.69 Friday, declining 20% over the previous year.

The company was also listed in January as a possible target by Brett Scheiner.

Seacoast owes $50 million in government bailout funds received through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, in December 2008, and has deferred eight consecutive quarterly dividend payments to the government, according to SNL Financial.

For the first quarter, Seacoast reported a net loss to common shareholders of $579 thousand, or a penny a share, improving from a loss of $2.5 million, or 4 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2010. The provision for loan losses declined to $640 thousand in the first quarter, from $2.1 million a year earlier.

CEO Dennis Hudson said that with six consecutive quarters of credit quality improvement, the company was "poised to accelerate our business plan to increase profitability and ultimately position Seacoast as a top-tier community bank, measured by low risk, strong organic growth and increased shareholder value."

Seacoast reported that its nonperforming assets ratio was 4.34% as of March 31, improving from 5.44% a year earlier. The first-quarter net charge-off ratio was 1.32% and reserves covered 2.80% of total loans as of March 31.

Following the earnings announcement, FIG Partners analyst Christopher Marinac reiterated his "market perform" rating on the shares, with a $1.75 price target. Regarding takeout possibilities, the analyst said investors "may wish to speculate that SBCF no longer remains independent once credit impairments are behind it."

While Marinac views a takeout as possible, he said "there is a reasonable chance that the company stays independent for quite a while," since "SBCF would be benefitted by demonstrating a few quarters of core profits plus removing incremental credit risk to justify a strong valuation."

All 10 analysts covering Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida have neutral ratings on the shares.

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