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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Now that Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen has all but promised interest rates will go up soon, it's time to hold stocks that should benefit when that happens.

With interest rates higher, banks, especially regional banks that do a lot of loan origination, should be able to charge more for their products. They should also be able to pay more interest to their depositors, giving higher incentive to savers. 

So, what are the best mid-cap regional banks investors should be buying? Here are the top seven, according to TheStreet's proprietary ratings tool.

TheStreet Ratings projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 32 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 16.56% return in 2014, beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a buy yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

Check out which stocks made the list. And when you're done, be sure to read about which safe, A+ rated stocks you should buy now. Year-to-date returns are based on September 24, 2015 closing prices.

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UNB

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7. Union Bankshares, Inc.

(UNB) - Get Union Bankshares, Inc. Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $118.4 million
Year-to-date return: 10.4%

Union Bankshares, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for Union Bank that provides retail, commercial, and municipal banking services in northern Vermont and northwestern New Hampshire.

TheStreet Ratings team rates UNION BANKSHARES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

TheStreet Recommends

We rate UNION BANKSHARES INC (UNB) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • UNB's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.9%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Commercial Banks industry and the overall market, UNION BANKSHARES INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The stock has not only risen over the past year, it has done so at a faster pace than the S&P 500, reflecting the earnings growth and other positive factors similar to those we have cited here. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • UNION BANKSHARES INC has improved earnings per share by 7.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. During the past fiscal year, UNION BANKSHARES INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.73 versus $1.60 in the prior year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 5.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $1.92 million to $2.02 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: UNB

Must Read:

13 A+ Stocks to Buy with High Growth, Return on Invested Capital

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PFBC

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6. Preferred Bank

(PFBC) - Get Preferred Bank Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $440.3 million
Year-to-date return: 14.7%

Preferred Bank provides various commercial banking products and services to small and mid-sized businesses and their owners, entrepreneurs, real estate developers and investors, professionals, and high net worth individuals in the United States.

TheStreet Ratings team rates PREFERRED BANK LOS ANGELES as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate PREFERRED BANK LOS ANGELES (PFBC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.7%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 30.06% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, PFBC should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • PREFERRED BANK LOS ANGELES has improved earnings per share by 22.2% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, PREFERRED BANK LOS ANGELES increased its bottom line by earning $1.79 versus $1.43 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus $1.79).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 22.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $6.21 million to $7.59 million.
  • The gross profit margin for PREFERRED BANK LOS ANGELES is currently very high, coming in at 87.65%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 31.38% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: PFBC

Must Read:

10 Banks to Buy in Anticipation of Interest Rates Hike

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HFWA

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5. Heritage Financial Corporation

(HFWA) - Get Heritage Financial Corporation Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $568 million
Year-to-date return: 8%

Heritage Financial Corporation operates as the bank holding company for Heritage Bank that provides various financial services to small businesses and general public.

TheStreet Ratings team rates HERITAGE FINANCIAL CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate HERITAGE FINANCIAL CORP (HFWA) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance and good cash flow from operations. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 17.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • HERITAGE FINANCIAL CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, HERITAGE FINANCIAL CORP increased its bottom line by earning $0.79 versus $0.61 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.22 versus $0.79).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income increased by 110.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $4.15 million to $8.73 million.
  • 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. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 1264.31% to $18.20 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 1264.31%, HERITAGE FINANCIAL CORP is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 2804.12%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: HFWA
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FRME

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4. First Merchants Corporation

(FRME) - Get First Merchants Corporation Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $971.7 million
Year-to-date return: 12.8%

First Merchants Corporation operates as the financial holding company for First Merchants Bank, National Association that provides community banking services.

TheStreet Ratings team rates FIRST MERCHANTS CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate FIRST MERCHANTS CORP (FRME) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • FRME's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.7%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 28.18% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, FRME should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • FIRST MERCHANTS CORP has improved earnings per share by 14.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, FIRST MERCHANTS CORP increased its bottom line by earning $1.65 versus $1.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.80 versus $1.65).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 18.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $15.16 million to $17.97 million.
  • The gross profit margin for FIRST MERCHANTS CORP is currently very high, coming in at 90.80%. Regardless of FRME's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, FRME's net profit margin of 25.10% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: FRME
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3. Simmons First National Corporation

(SFNC) - Get Simmons First National Corporation Class A Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $1.4 billion
Year-to-date return: 13.9%

Simmons First National Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of banking products and services to individual and corporate customers in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. Its deposit products include checking, savings, and time deposits.

TheStreet Ratings team rates SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP (SFNC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • SFNC's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 86.6%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP has improved earnings per share by 11.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP increased its bottom line by earning $2.11 versus $1.42 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.11 versus $2.11).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income increased by 102.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $9.91 million to $20.10 million.
  • The gross profit margin for SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP is currently very high, coming in at 91.42%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 19.23% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 183.11% to $1.12 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 183.11%, SIMMONS FIRST NATL CP is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 2804.12%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: SFNC
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HOMB

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2. Home BancShares, Inc.

(HOMB) - Get Home BancShares, Inc. Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $2.7 billion
Year-to-date return: 24.9%

Home BancShares, Inc. operates as a bank holding company for Centennial Bank that provides commercial and retail banking, and related financial services to businesses, real estate developers and investors, individuals, and municipalities.

TheStreet Ratings team rates HOME BANCSHARES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate HOME BANCSHARES INC (HOMB) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 14.0%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • HOME BANCSHARES INC has improved earnings per share by 16.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, HOME BANCSHARES INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.70 versus $1.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.03 versus $1.70).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 19.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $28.43 million to $33.91 million.
  • The gross profit margin for HOME BANCSHARES INC is currently very high, coming in at 90.46%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 31.58% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 25.63% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. We feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: HOMB
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PACW

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1. PacWest Bancorp

(PACW) - Get PacWest Bancorp Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $4.4 billion
Year-to-date return: -5.5%

PacWest Bancorp operates as the holding company for Pacific Western Bank that provides commercial banking products and services to individuals, professionals, and small to mid-sized businesses in the United States. It accepts demand, money market, and time deposits.

TheStreet Ratings team rates PACWEST BANCORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate PACWEST BANCORP (PACW) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • PACWEST BANCORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, PACWEST BANCORP increased its bottom line by earning $1.97 versus $1.08 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.90 versus $1.97).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income increased by 706.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $10.56 million to $85.08 million.
  • The gross profit margin for PACWEST BANCORP is currently very high, coming in at 90.58%. Regardless of PACW's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, PACW's net profit margin of 35.73% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 552.48% to $152.51 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 552.48%, PACWEST BANCORP is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 2804.12%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: PACW