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Texas Bank Growth Needs to be Wrangled

Stocks in this article: BAC WFC CMA CFR PB ZION

The second-largest Texas bank is USAA Federal Savings Bank, with $52.2 billion in total assets as of Dec. 30. The bank is part of USAA, which provides insurance banking and investment services to military personnel.

The third-largest bank headquartered in Texas is Wells Fargo Bank South Central, NA of Houston, with $33.7 billion in total assets as of June 30. This subsidiary of Wells Fargo is a mortgage lender, originating $55.6 billion in first-lien residential loans during 2011, while selling $48.9 billion.

Next is Frost National Bank of San Antonio, which had $20.4 billion in total assets as of Dec. 30. The bank is a subsidiary of Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR). First National Bank's fourth-quarter ROA was 1.19%, declining from 1.79% the previous quarter, but improving from 0.69% a year earlier.

The holding company reported that noninterest income declined during the fourth quarter by $5 million because of the Durbin rule, while service charges on deposit accounts also declined. The company also saw an increase in noninterest expense, with salary expense increasing by $5.4 million, or 9%, from a year earlier, "as a result of normal annual merit and market increases, and increases in stock-based compensation expense and incentive compensation."

Cullen/Frost's shares were up 7% year-to-date through Tuesday's close at $56.71, following a 10% decline last year. The shares trade for twice their tangible book value and 16 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of $3.65. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $3.82.

Deutsche Bank analyst Dave Rochester has a "Hold" rating on Cullen/Frost, based on the stock's relatively high valuation, saying on Jan. 26 that "while CFR has an attractive deposit franchise in one of the strongest economic regions of the U.S., with good longer-term growth prospects, and solid management, we await a better entry point, as we expect more limited upside potential to trading multiples/EPS/ROTCE."

Interested in more on Cullen/Frost Bankers? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Amegy Bank, NA of Houston had $12.2 billion in total assets as of Dec. 30. The bank is a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation (ZION) of Salt Lake City.

Amegy Bank performed solidly during 2011, with ROA ranging from 1.06% to 1.77%, and earning $159.4 million for the year.

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