Zions Bancorporation: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Zions Bancorporation ( ZION) was the winner among large U.S. financial names on Wednesday, with shares rising 2% to close at $19.16.

The broad indexes ended mixed as light August trading continued, after the Federal Reserve announced that industrial production rose 0.6% during July, after increasing by a downwardly revised 0.1% in June, mainly because of a weather-related 1.3% increase in utilities output and a 1.2% increase in mining output. Capacity utilization rose to 79.3% after increasing to 78.9% the month before.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gained two points to 37 in August, moving the index to its highest level since February 2007, for its fourth straight gain.

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) rose slightly to close at 46.73, with 18 of the 24 index components rising for the session.

Zions Bancorporation's shares have now returned 18% year-to-date, following a 33% decline during 2011.

The shares trade for just below their reported June 30 tangible book value of $19.65, and for 11 times the consensus 2013 earnings estimate of $1.75 a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is $1.14.

Zions owes $700 million in federal bailout funds received in November 2008 through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, having repaid $700 million in TARP money during the first quarter.

The company on July 23 reported second-quarter earnings applicable to common shareholders of $55.2 million, or 30 cents a share, increasing from $25.5 million, or 14 cents a share, during the first quarter, and $29.0 million, or 16 cents a share, during the second quarter of 2011. The earnings improvement mainly reflected "dividends and other investment income from private equity investments," primarily at its Amegy subsidiary.

The second-quarter results were also boosted by a $32 million release of loan loss reserves.

FBR analyst Paul Miller rates Zions Bancorporation "Market Perform," with a price target of $21, and said on July 24 that "ZION was able to add to its loan portfolio this quarter as commercial and industrial loan balances increased, and the company continues to see a good amount of loan demand in its footprint."

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