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Comerica: Financial Loser

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Comerica (STI - Get Report) was the loser among the largest U.S. banking names on Wednesday, with shares declining over 4% to close at $29.47.

The broad indexes showed slight declines, despite a report by the National Association of Realtors that existing home sales in January increased 4.3% to an annual rate of 4.57 million, which was the strongest sales growth since May of 2010.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an "inquiry into checking account overdraft programs" which may have sent a chill into bank executives and investors, after the huge drops in service charges on deposit accounts from rules implemented in 2010, requiring banks only to offer expensive ATM and debit card overdraft protection to customers who previously opted-in for the service, followed by a vicious hit to revenue from the Durbin Amendment's caps on debit card interchange fees in October of last year.

The The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) declined 2% to close at 44.62, with all 24 index components showing declines.

In his report highlighting banks growing their commercial and industrial loan portfolios, Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin said that Comerica grew its commercial loan portfolio by 8% during the fourth quarter, to $25.0 billion as of Dec. 30, while the Dallas Lender's totl loans grew 3.5%, to $42.7 billion.

Usdin said that "growth in C&I led the way as CMA experienced a strong quarter in its dealer finance and mortgage banker businesses," but that Comerica's "forward guidance is fairly cautious given the company is only calling for 2%-5% average loan growth in 2012."

The analyst rates Comerica a "Hold," with a $28 price target, and estimates the company will earn $2.40 a share in 2012, followed by EPS of $2.50 in 2013.

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Comerica's shares have now returned 14% year-to-date, after a 38% decline in 2011.
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