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10 Bank Dividends with Room to Rise


3. Community Bank System

Shares of Community Bank System (CBU) of De Witt, N.Y., closed at $24.21 Monday, returning 2% over the previous year. Based on a quarterly payout of 24 cents, the shares have a yield of 3.97%.

The company in April completed its acquisition of Wilber Corp. of Oneonta, N.Y., bringing its total assets to approximately $6.3 billion, with roughly 170 customer facilities in upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.

First-quarter net income was $16.2 million, or 48 cents a share, increasing from $14 million, or 42 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2010. Net interest income increased 5% year-over-year to $45.5 million in the first quarter, from a decline in funding costs. The first-quarter provision for loan losses was $1.1 million, declining from $1.8 million a year earlier.

The first-quarter net interest margin increased to 4.02% from 3.87% a year earlier, according to SNL. The first-quarter ROA was 1.18%.

Following the earnings release, David Darst of Guggenheim securities reiterated his neutral rating with on Community Bank System's shares, with a $27 price target, while raising his 2011 earnings estimate by six cents to $2.01 a share, and increasing his 2012 estimate by three cents to $2.08. Darst said the bank's valuation was in line with "banks in the Mid-Atlantic and New England with a similar profitability profile."

The shares trade for 12 times the consensus 2012 earnings estimate of $2.08 share.

Out of six analysts covering Community Bank System, two rate the shares a buy, while the remaining analysts all have neutral ratings.

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