NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Center Bancorp (Nasdaq: CNBC) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for CENTER BANCORP INC is currently very high, coming in at 73.70%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, CNBC's net profit margin of 20.90% significantly trails the industry average.
  • 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 974.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $0.28 million to $3.02 million.
  • CENTER BANCORP 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 year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, CENTER BANCORP INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.43 versus $0.25 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.72 versus $0.43).
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 1700.00% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 28.55% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Turning to the future, naturally, any stock can fall in a major bear market. However, in almost any other environment, the stock should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed nice gains in the past year.
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 3.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 41.5%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

Center Bancorp, Inc. operates as the holding company for Union Center National Bank that provides various banking services to individual and corporate customers in Union and Morris counties, New Jersey. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.6, above the average banking industry P/E ratio of 16.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Center has a market cap of $162.4 million and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 22.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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