NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- First Clover Leaf Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: FCLF) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite the weak revenue results, FCLF has outperformed against the industry average of 31.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 8.5%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to not be hurting the bottom line, shown by stable earnings per share.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Thrifts & Mortgage Finance industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, FIRST CLOVER LEAF FINANCIAL has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. 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.
  • The gross profit margin for FIRST CLOVER LEAF FINANCIAL is rather high; currently it is at 66.60%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year.

First Clover Leaf Financial Corp. operates as the holding company for First Clover Leaf Bank, a federal savings bank that provides various banking products and services in Illinois. It principally offers retail deposit products and lends loans. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.2, equal to the average banking industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. First Clover Leaf Financial has a market cap of $54.7 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 Friday.

You can view the full First Clover Leaf Financial Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.
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