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Zions (ZION) Q1 Earnings Lag as Provisions & Costs Rise

Zions Bancorporation ZION reported first-quarter 2016 earnings of 38 cents, which lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. However, this compared favorably with the prior-year quarter earnings of 37 cents.

The lower-than-expected quarterly results were mainly due to higher provision for loan losses, a rise in operating expenses and a slight fall in non-interest income. These were partially offset by an improved net interest income. Further, growth in loans and deposits was the tailwind.

Net income applicable to common shareholders came in at $78.8 million, up 5% from the year-ago quarter.

Behind the Headlines

Net revenue (FTE basis) was $575 million, up 7% year over year. Further, the figure marginally beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $574.07 million.  

Net interest income increased 9% year over year to $452.8 million. Further, net interest margin improved 13 basis points (bps) to 3.35%.

Non-interest income amounted to $116.8 million, down 0.5% from the prior-year quarter. The decline was due to drastic plunge in dividends and other investment income, and other income, partially offset by an increase in customer-related fees.

Adjusted non-interest expenses increased 3% from the year-ago quarter to $395.6 million. Further, efficiency ratio was 68.5%, down from 71.9% a year ago quarter. A fall in efficiency ratio indicates improvement in profitability.

As of Mar 31, 2016, total loans, net of allowance, grew 3% year over year to $40.8 billion. Also, total deposits rose 4% year over year to $49.9 billion.

Credit Quality

Zions’ credit quality deteriorated during the quarter owing to significant exposure to stressed energy sector loans. The ratio of nonperforming lending-related assets to net loans and leases as well as other real estate owned increased 34 bps year over year to 1.33%.

Further, provisions for loan losses came in at $42.1 million compared with the provision benefit of $1.5 million in the prior-year quarter. Moreover, net charge-offs were $36 million, compared with net recoveries of $17 million in the year-ago quarter.

Profitability and Capital Ratios

As of Mar 31, 2016, Tier 1 leverage ratio came in at 11.44% and Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio stood at 13.88% under the Basel III rules.

Return on average assets was 0.62% as of Mar 31, 2016, down from 0.66% as of Mar 31, 2015. Also, as of Mar 31, 2016, tangible return on common equity was 5.59%, down from 5.80% last year.

Our Viewpoint

Zions remains well positioned for future growth based on consistent improvement in loans and deposits, improving credit quality and a larger share of non-interest bearing deposits in total deposits. Also, the company’s efforts to restructure its balance sheet continue to be impressive.

Nevertheless, we remain apprehensive about mounting expenses, strained margin, an asset-sensitive balance sheet and regulatory restrictions, which are likely to weigh on the company’s financials in the near term.

Currently, Zions carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Performance of other West Banks

First Republic Bank FRC recorded earnings of 88 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 80 cents.  Results reflected growth in top line and reduced provisions. However, higher non-interest expenses were a drag.

Westamerica Bancorp’s WABC first-quarter 2016 earnings of 56 cents per share lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Lower-than-expected quarterly results were largely due to a decline in revenues. However, a fall in operating expense and absence of provisions were the positives.

Notably, BofI Holding, Inc. BOFI will announce results on Apr 28.

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
WESTAMER BANCP (WABC): Free Stock Analysis Report
ZIONS BANCORP (ZION): Free Stock Analysis Report
FIRST REP BK SF (FRC): Free Stock Analysis Report
BOFI HLDG INC (BOFI): Free Stock Analysis Report
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