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TheStreet Open House

Comerica: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Comerica (CMA) was the winner among the largest U.S. financial names on Tuesday, with shares rising 4% to close at $31.95.

The major U.S. equity indices all saw gains of at least 1.5%, after a successful 3.2 billion euro short-term bond sale by Spain calmed European fears. Spain saw very strong demand for the paper, having originally set a maximum target for the auction of 3 billion euro. Despite the strong demand, the average yield on one-year Spanish treasury bills rose to 2.623%, from 1.418% last month and the yield on 18-month bills popped up to 3.11% from 1.711% last month.

Spain will hold another bond auction on Thursday.

The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) rose 2% to close at 48.49.

Investors were enthusiastic about Comerica's first-quarter results, with the Dallas lender reporting net income of $130 million, or 66 cents a share, increasing from $96 million, or 48 cents a share, during the fourth quarter, and $103 million, or 57 cents a share, during the first quarter of 2011. The fourth-quarter results included $37 million in restructuring charges associated with the purchase of Sterling Bancshares last July.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had estimated first-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share.

Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin said that Comerica's results looked "pretty solid as better fees and stable net interest income drove a 4% Q-Q increase in core pre-provision income," and that "credit quality exceeded expectations, and the better 2012 outlook for provision expense should provide a lift to estimates this year."

Comerica reported total growth in average loans of 2% during the first quarter, with average commercial loan balances increasing 5% from the fourth quarter. Usdin said that "despite the better-than-expected loan growth, management left its FY2012 loan growth outlook unchanged, calling for 2%-5% average growth," and that since "loans ended the quarter at $43.0B (or 7% above the FY11 average), guidance looks very conservative."

Usdin has a hold rating on Comerica with a $31 price target.

Comerica's shares have now returned 24% year-to-date, following a 38% decline during 2011.

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The shares trade for just below their reported March 31 tangible book value of $32.06, and for 12 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $2.65.

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

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