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5 Small-Cap Bank Stock Winners Nobody's Talking About

4. Ameris Bancorp
Shares of Ameris Bancorp (ABCB - Get Report) of Moultrie, Ga., closed at $12.50 Friday, returning 22% year-to-date, following a 2.5% decline during 2011.

The shares trade for 1.2 times tangible book value, and for 12 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.02. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is 55 cents.

Ameris had $2.9 billion in total assets as of June 30. The company's ROA for the 12-month period ended June 30 was of 0.86% and its ROE was 8.81%.

The consensus among analysts is for the company to report third-quarter earnings of 14 cents, compared to 10 cents during the second quarter, and a 66 cents during the third quarter of 2011, when earnings were boosted by $26.9 million in gains from two FDIC-assisted acquisitions of failed banks.

The company completed nine failed-bank acquisitions from October 2009 through February of this year.

KBW analyst Brady Gailey has a $15 price target for Ameris, and said after his firm's community bank conference in August that the company has "worked diligently on improving its credit profile in recent quarters, allowing it to turn its focus toward earnings leverage and improved profitability in 2H12 and into 2013," and that "near term catalysts for the stock include: (1) accretive FDIC deals, (2) operating leverage from fee-based businesses, (3) further credit improvement, and (4) partial TARP repay."

The U.S. Treasury in June auctioned the $52 million in Ameris preferred stock it held, to private investors, for $47.7 million.

Second-quarter highlights for Ameris, according to Gailey, was an estimated "core" net interest margin of 4.20%, which is a high level for any community bank in the current rate environment, and 13% organic loan growth during the second-quarter, "most of which was from C&I and agricultural lending. Importantly, management believes this level of loan growth is sustainable on a net basis."

ABCB Chart ABCB data by YCharts

Interested in more on Ameris Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.
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ABCB $31.40 0.00%
C $46.68 0.00%
COLB $29.90 0.00%
GS $166.18 0.00%
JPM $63.79 0.00%


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