August 22, 2014

2008 Industry Outlook

Finance 2008

New opportunities: Florida-based banks are hoping for a rebound.

Mike Vogel | 1/1/2008

Benjamin C. Bishop Jr.
“We have people saying, ‘Just get me out of bank stocks.’ ”
— Benjamin C. Bishop Jr., chairman, Allen C. Ewing & Co., Jacksonville

[Photo: Kelly LaDuke]

For the gutsy: Buy the stocks of Florida-based banks. Their 15-year bull market ended last year, says Benjamin C. Bishop Jr., chairman of investment banker Allen C. Ewing & Co. in Jacksonville. Valuations plunged, down 44% through the third quarter of 2007. “The Florida banks have just been pummeled,” Bishop says.

Indeed, stock in the largest Florida-based bank, Coral Gables-based BankUnited, Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic, and Sanford-based Federal Trust Bank all could be had for under book value last year.

Buyers in the last bank bear market were rewarded within a couple of years by rising valuations, Bishop says. Many bankers say their non-real estate operations are healthy, and Florida’s continued growth means Florida bank stocks should rebound.

Meanwhile, though, Bishop projects 2008 will be a year of down or flat earnings for banks. “Just about every Florida bank is doing all it can to generate fee income,” he says.

Tags: North Central, Banking & Finance

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