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Ameris Bancorp Stock Upgraded (ABCB)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Ameris Bancorp (Nasdaq: ABCB) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

  • EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys Stocks Under $10 that he thinks could potentially double. See what he's trading today with a 14-day FREE pass.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • The gross profit margin for AMERIS BANCORP is currently very high, coming in at 76.00%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, ABCB's net profit margin of 4.58% significantly trails the industry average.
  • ABCB, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 9.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite the company's weak earnings results. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • AMERIS BANCORP has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AMERIS BANCORP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.75 versus -$0.40 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 54.0% in earnings ($0.35 versus $0.75).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 88.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $16.46 million to $1.90 million.
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Ameris Bancorp operates as the holding company for the Ameris Bank, which provides a range of banking services to retail and commercial customers. The company has a P/E ratio of 40.2, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Ameris has a market cap of $306.1 million and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 2.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

You can view the full Ameris Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

-- Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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