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Argus initiates coverage of Zions at 'buy'

Initiation

Argus Research Co. analyst Kevin Heal is now covering Salt Lake City-based Zions Bancorp NA's stock. He gave it a "buy" rating and set a price target of $51.

Heal wrote that Zions has strong capital levels and a high loan-to-deposit ratio and is also taking advantage of decreased regulatory oversight as it is no longer designated a systemically important financial institution.

The analyst expects the bank to report stronger loan growth as compared to most regional banks, supported by its focus on high-growth Western markets. The bank's net interest margins are expected to grow further as the Federal Reserve normalizes rates.

Heal gave the bank a "medium-high" financial strength rating, based on its strong capital levels and good NIM.

The analyst also expects the bank's net interest income to continue growing at 4% in 2019 due to higher interest rates.