Damon DelMonte also has an "Outperform" rating for People's United Financial ( PBCT) of Bridgeport, Conn., which closed at $11.26 Thursday, down 6% from a week earlier and down 17% year-to-date. Based on a quarterly payout of 16 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 5.60%. The shares trade for just over 12 times the consensus 2012 earnings estimate of 89 cents a share.

DelMonte says that he believes "People's United's dividend remains safe despite its most recent quarter's operating earnings payout ratio of roughly 95%," because of its strong tangible common equity ratio of 13.9%, along with "earnings accretion from recent acquisitions, favorable asset quality metrics and normalized earnings potential as high as $1.40 per share."

Renasant Corp. ( RNST) of Tupelo, Miss., closed at $13.73 Thursday, down 6% from a week earlier and down 17% year-to-date. Based on a quarterly payout of 17 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 4.95%. The shares trade for 10.4 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of $1.23.

KBW analyst Catherine Mealor says that Renasant's dividend "offers an attractive return for shareholders in a defensive name at an attractive valuation," since the shares trade for only 1.2 times tangible book value. Mealor adds that KBW is "excited about various fee income growth opportunities, particularly from the acquisition of RBC Bank's trust department and various hires in its mortgage division.

Westamerica Bancorp ( WABC) of San Rafael, Calif., closed at $41 Thursday, down 8% over the previous week, and down 21% year-to-date. Based on a quarterly payout of 36 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 3.51$. The shares trade for 11.6 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of $3.35.

Julianna Balicka rates the shares "Outperform," saying that "few banks have replicated WABC's formula of delivering high returns without stretching on risk or chasing yield." While saying that an investment in Westamerica "is not for everyone," in light of "its already premium valuation," Balicka says the shares are appropriate for "investors seeking a quality bank name with sustainable returns, attractive profitability, and good dividend yield."

The analyst adds that Westamerica "has consistently demonstrated solid, predictable results with tangible ROE of above 20% for 44 out of 46 quarters since" the first quarter of 2000.

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