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Center Bancorp Inc. Stock Upgraded (CNBC)

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Center Bancorp (Nasdaq:CNBC) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • CNBC's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.3%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • CENTER BANCORP INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, CENTER BANCORP INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.43 versus $0.25 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.80 versus $0.43).
  • The gross profit margin for CENTER BANCORP INC is currently very high, coming in at 73.10%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 24.40% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 61.63% to $7.24 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 61.63%, CENTER BANCORP INC is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 7558.21%.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.

Center Bancorp, Inc. operates as the holding company for Union Center National Bank that provides various banking services to individual and corporate customers in Union and Morris counties, New Jersey. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.9, equal to the average banking industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Center has a market cap of $162.3 million and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 22.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Center Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

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