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Sandler O'Neill upgrades Union Bankshares to 'buy'

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Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst Casey Whitman raised Richmond, Va.-based Union Bankshares Corp.'s stock rating to "buy" from "hold," following the recent decline in share price.

The analyst kept Union Bankshares' stock price target unchanged at $42.

Whitman wrote that Union Bankshares' stock lost 2% on Oct. 17, after the third-quarter results, which reflected weaker-than-anticipated loan growth of 5% annualized and a higher expense base. Whitman also noted that the stock had dropped 13% during the course of the past month.

The analyst further wrote that with the third quarter over and a clear path to stronger fourth-quarter results, she is now more confident in her forward earnings projections.

Dropped Coverage

Hovde Group analyst Brian Zabora dropped coverage of Houston-based Green Bancorp Inc.'s stock following its announced deal with Veritex Holdings Inc.

The analyst's last rating on Green Bancorp's stock was "market perform" and the price target was $24.50.

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Zabora also dropped coverage of Chicago-based MB Financial Inc.'s stock following its announced acquisition by Fifth Third Bancorp.

The analyst's last rating on MB Financial's stock was "market perform" and the price target was $45.00.