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N.Y. Community Bancorp is a Feast or Famine

Ficalora said in March that the company was "actively working toward getting regulatory approval so as to be a SIFI bank -- a bigger bank." He also that "it is our intent to do whatever the necessary work is to get that approval because, in the environment ahead, there will be opportunities to create great value for shareholders by doing, at least in our case, first a large deal and then whatever other deals we need to do."

When asked about the company's search for a large acquisition that would immediately boost earnings, Ficalora said during New York Community's earnings conference call on Wednesday that "there are many interesting opportunities in the marketplace. Not that this is a very active market, as I'm sure you are very much aware, but there are things to be considered, for sure."

When asked about the company's ability to maintain the dividend, considering the first-quarter earnings boost from $16.6 million in one-time securities gains, New York Community Bancorp CFO Thomas Cangemi said during the call on Wednesday that "we have the expectation that pre-payment penalty income will be robust this year," and that "if rates stay very low as they are today, our mortgage bank will be fine." Cangemi added that he felt "pretty good about pre-payment levels" and that he was "not really concerned about being able to pay the dividend."

Gilbert in a note to clients on late on Wednesday wrote that "we like NYCB's risk/reward positioning with upside above $16 & downside of $12. The flexible business model remains well hedged to various interest rate scenarios, which differentiates the bank from peers who have struggled in the challenging operating environment."

"While upside valuation reflects the inclusion of a large, transformational deal, those opportunities continue to exist," Gilbert wrote, adding that "downside reflects a 'worst case' independent operating environment that seems unlikely given increased stability over the last year or so."

Gilbert reiterated her "outperform" rating for New York Community. She estimates the company will earn $1.04 a share for all of 2013, with EPS climbing to $1.10 in 2014.

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