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TheStreet Open House

Sterling CEO: Small Businesses Fueling Loan Growth

Stocks in this article: STL

The market is resurging. We never turned down to the extent that the rest of the country did. Sterling National Bank has an enormous opportunity to expand market share. Also, our existing clients are beginning to draw on their credit lines more.

TheStreet: Have you hired additional lenders?

Millman: Yes, we have hired six or seven business development people over the past year. We have a core platform and operations capacity that can support substantially more volume than we presently have, which helps us to control expenses.

TheStreet: Sterling traditionally focuses on building loan and deposit relationships with small businesses and service providers. Is there any change in the bank's lending focus?

Millman: Absolutely not. This has been our ongoing focus since 1929.

TheStreet: Do you expect the growth to continue at this clip?

Millman: We expect continued double digit growth in both loans and deposits.

TheStreet: Who's hiring in the city?

Millman: My sense is that the financial service firms, the commercial banks, are now beginning to hire business development people and we are seeing more interest in our employees from other institutions. I think this is a sign of revitalization in the market place.

Sterling Bancorp's shares closed at $9.45 Thursday, returning 10% year-to-date, following a 14% decline during 2011.

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Based on a quarterly payout of nine cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 3.81%.

Sterling's shares trade 1.3 times their reported March 31 book value of $7.29, and for 13 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of 74 cents, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is 64 cents.

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

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn.

To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/PhilipvanDoorn.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.
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