Third-quarter noninterest income declined to $69.1 million, from $80.4 million the previous quarter, and $95.6 million a year earlier, reflecting higher gains on securities and derivatives in the prior periods. SVB Financial's third-quarter return on average assets was 0.77% and its return on average common equity was 9.44%. Alexopoulos rates SVB Financial "Overweight," with a $68 price target, implying 25% upside over the stock's closing price of $54.33 on Monday. After meeting with SVB Financial CFO Michael Descheneaux, The analyst said that "the key message we walked away with is that not only is SVB Financial well positioned as a niche growth story within the regional banks, but more specifically, its growth model may actually prove to be uniquely positioned for these uncertain times at hand given its leverage to the innovation sector." "The key to SIVB's loan growth will be staying with innovation companies as they grow," Alexopoulos said. "With SIVB being one of the very few early stage lenders in the country, the company has a significant growth opportunity in staying with these companies as they become larger." Alexopoulos went on to say that "SIVB currently has 50-60% share of early stage companies but only 15% share of later stage companies and less than 10% share of global companies, representing a significant opportunity. On global growth, this represents a longer-term opportunity." When discussing the risk of an investment in SVB Financial's stock, Alexopoulos said that "while items such as the fiscal cliff could result in a further slowdown in economic growth, a larger risk for the company is some type of event (such as the Lehman bankruptcy) that causes investors and companies to pull back on acquisitions and investment. Although it's hard to argue that a slowing economic backdrop is a good thing for SIVB's core clients, so long as companies continue to innovate to solve modern day problems and these innovations provide a good return to investors, then the momentum within the food chain of the innovation cycle should continue, providing SIVB with an opportunity to post well above peer growth."