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5 Regional Bank Earnings to Watch

5. Comerica

Shares of Comerica (CMA) of Dallas closed at $32.33 Tuesday, returning 25% year-to-date, following a 38% decline during 2011.

The shares trade for 12 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $2.63.

Following the completion of the Federal Reserve's 2012 bank holding company stress tests, Comerica on March 14 announced that the regulator had not objected to its capital plan, which provided up to $375 million in common share buybacks through the first quarter of 2013. The capital plan also included an increase of the company's quarterly dividend to 15 cents a share from 10 cents, which "will be considered by the Board at its April 24, 2012, meeting."

Based on the current 10-cent quarterly payout, Comerica's shares have a dividend yield of 1.24%.

The company is scheduled to announce its first-quarter results on April 17. The consensus first-quarter earnings estimate is 55 cents a share, improving from EPS of 48 cents the previous quarter, but declining from 57 cents during the first quarter of 2011.

Comerica's fourth-quarter earnings of $96 million included $37 million in restructuring charges associated with the acquisition of Sterling Bancshares. The charges were $23 million after tax, or 12 cents a share.

The company's fourth-quarter bottom line was boosted by a $59 million release of loan loss reserves.

A silver lining for the fourth quarter, according to CEO Ralph Babb, was "total loan growth of $1.5 billion, or 4%," which was "driven by a $1.9 billion, or 8%, increase in commercial loans, particularly in National Dealer Services, Mortgage Banker Finance, Energy Lending, Technology and Life Sciences, and Global Corporate Banking."

Guggenheim Securities analyst Jeff Davis rates Comerica a "Buy," although he is slightly behind the consensus, with a first-quarter EPS estimate of 53 cents. Davis said on March 7 that "CMA is in a loan-driven growth phase given national [commercial and industrial loan] growth, strength of the Texas economy (Dallas headquarters), and improving economies in Michigan and California."

Interested in more on Comerica? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.
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