NEW YORK (

TheStreet

)

-- Heartland Financial USA

(Nasdaq:

HTLF

) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Commercial Banks industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, HEARTLAND FINANCIAL USA INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for HEARTLAND FINANCIAL USA INC is currently very high, coming in at 75.00%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 16.20% is above that of the industry average.
  • HTLF's revenue growth trails the industry average of 22.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.5%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 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 100.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $5.10 million to $10.22 million.
  • HEARTLAND FINANCIAL USA INC 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, HEARTLAND FINANCIAL USA INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.12 versus $0.07 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.35 versus $1.12).

Heartland Financial USA, Inc., through its bank subsidiaries, provides commercial and retail banking services to businesses and individuals. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.8, above the average banking industry P/E ratio of 11.7 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Heartland Financial USA has a market cap of $265.8 million and is part of the

financial

sector and

banking

industry. Shares are down 5.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

You can view the full

Heartland Financial USA Ratings Report

or get investment ideas from our

investment research center

.

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