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Sell Comerica, Buy Fifth Third: Stifel

Given the margin pressure and with "the contribution from loan loss reserve releases waning, no direct mortgage exposure, and C&I loan growth showing signs of slowing, we simply do not see any earnings growth catalysts on the horizon."

The analyst estimates that Comerica will earn $2.61 a share this year, followed by EPS of $2.60 in 2013.

Mutascio called Comerica's price-to-earnings multiple of 12.7, based on his 2013 EPS estimate, "the highest within our large cap bank coverage and significantly higher than the median of 10.0x," and said the 11-time multiple to his normalized earnings estimate for the company was "second highest within the group and higher than the median of 9.3x... despite the fact our estimated ROA and [return on equity] for the company (both on 2013 and on a normalized basis) are well below the medians of our large cap bank coverage."

The analyst added that since Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB - Get Report) has "lower P/E multiples on both our 2013 and normalized EPS estimates, higher profitability measures (both ROA and ROE) and slightly higher dividend yield (3Q12 dividend increase is also likely at FITB, which would widen the gap further), we would rotate out of CMA and into FITB."

Comerica's ROA has ranged between 0.67% and 0.93% over the past five quarters, while its ROE has ranged between 5.91% and 8.23%. Fifth Third's ROA has ranged between 1.12% and 1.48%, while its ROE has ranged between 9.79% and 12.82%.

Fifth Third's shares closed at $15.61 Thursday, returning 24% year-to-date, following an 11% decline last year. The shares trade for 1.3 times their reported June 30 tangible book value of $11.89, and for 10 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.58. Based on a quarterly payout of eight cents, Fifth Third's shares have a dividend yield of 2.05%.

Mutascio rates Fifth Third a "Buy," with a $17 price target, and estimates the Cincinnati lender will earn $1.62 a share in 2013.


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

>Contact by Email.

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 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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