NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nearly three out of four Florida's banks were profitable during the first quarter, which was a vast improvement from the fourth quarter, when nearly half lost money. Of course, Florida still has its share of troubled banks, with 24 undercapitalized institutions as of March 31, according to data provided by Thomson Reuters Bank Insight, not including Security Bank, NA of North Lauderdale, which failed on May 4, and was purchased from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. by Branesco USA of Coral Gables, Fla. Please see TheStreet's Bank Watch List for a full listing of all the banks and thrifts across the country that were undercapitalized, per normal regulatory guidelines, as of March 31. One of the larger banks on last quarter's Bank Watch List was Vision Bank of Panama City, which was held by Park National Corp. ( PRK)of Newark, Ohio. Park National sold Vision Bank to Home BancShares ( HOMB) of Conway, Ark., for $27.9 million on February 16. The deal was a sweet one for Home BancShares, which picked up 17 branches in Baldwin County, Ala., and in the Florida Panhandle, while not acquiring Vision Bank's nonperforming loans or its repossessed real estate. Deposit gathering in Florida is dominated by the big national players, including Bank of America ( BAC), with a first-place 19% deposit market share as of June 30, 2011, according to the most recent FDIC data. Wells Fargo ( WFC) is in second place, with a 16% deposit market share in the Sunshine State, followed by SunTrust ( STI), with a 10% market share. But smaller players are looking for continued Florida expansion. Home BancShares chairman John Allison said during the company's first-quarter earnings call that "we're looking somewhere in the Naples market to try to build some more base there for our Keys operation," and that the company "would like to do something in and around Orlando, and we would certainly continue to build in the Panhandle." During the call, Home BancShares chief lending officer Kevin Hester said "we're optimistic, especially in Florida," where the bank's loan "pipeline is improving." Since the Bank Watch List is based solely on capital ratios, we take a different approach on our quarterly coverage of banks in key states, by looking at overall credit quality to identify troubled institutions.
Florida Banks with Weakest Asset QualityThe following list includes all banks in the state with nonperforming assets comprising more than 15% of total assets as of March 31:
Largest Florida BanksAs we have seen from the expansion of Home Bancshares and the comments from the company's executives, Florida remains a key banking battleground and a long-term growth story. Over time, the state's economic advantages -- including lower (or nonexistent) heating bills, lower real estate prices than many northern states, lower property taxes, and the lack of a state income tax -- not to mention all that sunshine, seem likely to restore the state's destination status for an aging U.S. population. Here are the 10 largest banks headquartered in Florida along with key metrics as of March 31:
The investor group took the thrift public in January 2011. The holding company on Feb. 29 completed its $71 million acquisition of Herald National Bank of New York, which will continue to operate as an independent unit, until being merged into BankUnited at the end of August BankAtlantic Bancorp ( BBX) has a deal in place to sell BankAtlantic of Fort Lauderdale to BB&T ( BBT) for what BB&T said was "an estimated premium of $301 million above the net asset value of BankAtlantic at closing," representing "a 9% deposit premium based on September 30, 2011 balances," or an estimated $301 million.
The bank failure map is color-coded, with the states having the greatest number of failures highlighted in dark gray, and states with no failures in light green. By moving your mouse over a state you can see its combined 2008-2011 totals. Then click the state to open a detailed map pinpointing the locations and providing additional information for each bank failure. -- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla. To contact the writer, click here: Philip van Doorn. To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/PhilipvanDoorn.
Strongest Florida Banks and ThriftsBased on fourth-quarter financial reports, only two Florida institutions were assigned "recommended" ratings of B-plus or above by Weiss Ratings: