Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Carolinas banks to pitch investors in NYC

Park Sterling Bank and several of its peers will be in New York City starting today at one of the community banking industry's key investor conferences.

And it comes at a pretty good time for them: After several years of struggles, small banks are outpacing their larger brethren in loan growth (6 percent vs. 2 percent) and earnings estimates are being bumped up four times as often as revised down, according to data from financial firm Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, which is hosting the conference.

Charlotte's Park Sterling disclosed a sneak peak at what they'll say with the SEC late Monday. Key themes: The bank is taking cost-saves from mergers and plowing the money back into new bankers and product specialists in personal and business banking in its best metro areas (i.e. Charlotte).

Of note -- the bank's stock is up 22 percent this year. But even that's still below the industry's 30 percent year-to-date growth, per KBW data.

WHY ARE SMALL BANKS OUTPERFORMING? KBW posits it could be because lending teams are moving from big banks to small ones, regulatory pressures are lighter on community banks, or a greater risk-taking attitude at community banks.

Other Carolinas' banks presenting at this conference include SCBT Financial Corp., NewBridge Bancorp, BNC Bancorp and Yadkin Financial Corporation.

CHARLOTTE HOME PRICES OUT TODAY: Housing values in the region have been going up for more than a year now. The region's prices rose 7.3 percent in April over the year ago period in the most recent results. Chances are the rally will continue despite slowly rising interest rates. We'll have a story up this morning with the results.

LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OUT TODAY: Also coming today are county unemployment rates. Mecklenburg County's rate was at 8.9 percent in May, lower than last year, but still stubbornly elevated.

DIRTY BOFA TOWER: Bank of America has put a lot of effort into making its newer skyscrapers LEED certified, meaning that they adhere to a number of environmental sustainability standards. But a story in The New Republic says that despite that, its Manhattan tower produces more greenhouse gases per square foot than most other buildings, including twice that of the Empire State building.

What gives? According to The New Republic, you can get credit toward LEED status for things like putting in bike racks and educational displays, which don't really help the building be efficient. It also takes a lot of juice to power all those computer workstations.

The story does give a nod to the bank by saying the building isn't as bad for the environment as it could be. It doesn't, however, offer the bank's voice in response.

****This is The Charlotte Observer's Bank Watch Morning Report, bringing you banking news from the region, the top financial headlines, and the news driving activity in the Charlotte market. *****

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