Zions Bancorporation: Financial Loser

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Zions Bancorporation ( ZION) was the loser among the largest U.S. financial names on Tuesday, with shares sliding by more than 3% to close at $20.33.

The broad indexes pulled back after a disappointing 2015 revenue forecast from Caterpillar ( CAT), and some negative comments on the Federal Reserve's efforts to push long-term interest rates even lower though increased purchases of long-term securities, from Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser.

"We are unlikely to see much benefit to growth or to employment from further asset purchases," Plosser said, adding that "conveying the idea that such action will have a substantive impact on labor markets and the speed of the recovery risks the Fed's credibility."

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) was down 2% to close at 49.59, with all 24 index components showing declines for the session.

Shares of Zions Bancorporation ( ZION) of Salt Lake City have now returned 25% year-to-date, following a 33% decline during 2011.

The shares trade for just over their reported June 30 tangible book value of $19.65, and for 12 times the consensus 2013 Earnings estimate of $1.75 a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is $1.15.

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 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.

Guggenheim Securities analyst Marty Mosby has a neutral rating on Zions Bancorporation, with a $23 price target, saying on Friday that investors will be seeing "favorable short-term headlines" heading into third-quarter earnings season, as the company "will likely report stronger loan growth than expected in 3Q12, repay its remaining TARP balance before releasing 3Q12 results, and see an increase in reported earnings per share due to less debt conversion costs."

Mosby raised his third-quarter EPS estimate for Zions by a nickel to 42 cents. The analyst estimates the company will earn $1.32 a share for all of 2012, followed by 2013 EPS of $1.96.

Mosby said that "after achieving the full benefit from the TARP repayment and lower debt conversion costs, we have forecasted that net interest margin compression and less release of loan loss reserves could stall quarterly earnings at around the $0.50 level until 4Q13," and that "ZION's Recovery: ZION's recovery could take longer than other banks' as the two levers of capital restructuring and the eventual rise in short-term interest rates could take the next three to four years to complete."

"However, once finished we see significant upside potential for ZION."

ZION Chart ZION data by YCharts

Interested in more on Zions Bancorporation? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

>Contact by Email.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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