Buy Hanmi Financial Stock Now, Says KBW

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hanmi Financial (HAFC) is in a sweet spot, with plenty of upside for investors over the next 12 months, according to KBW analyst Julianna Balicka.

The analyst prior to the bank's earnings announcement on Monday upgraded the shares to an "outperform" rating from "market perform," while raising her price target for the shares to $25.00.

The bank is headquartered in Los Angeles, had $3.056 billion in total assets as of Dec. 31, with 27 branches, along with loan offices in Dallas and Seattle. Hanmi Financial announced in December a deal to acquire for $50 million in cash Central Bancorp of Garland Texas, which will include $1.6 billion in total assets and branches in Texas, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia.

The merger is expected to be completed during the second half of 2014, and will result in the second-largest Korean-American bank, with BBCN Bancorp (BBCN), which is also based on Los Angeles, in first place with total assets of $6.5 billion as of Dec. 31.

Shares of Hanmi Financial rose over 6% on Monday to $22.46, after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $10.0 million, or 31 cents a share, declining from $10.3 million, or 32 cents a share, during the third quarter and $14.0 million, or 44 cents a share, during the fourth quarter of 2012. The results for the fourth quarter of 2012 included a $5.5 billion from the recapture of a deferred tax asset (DTA) valuation allowance.

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