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Sandler upgrades Chemung Financial to 'buy'


* Sandler O'Neill & Partners' Alexander Twerdahl raised Chemung Financial Corp.'s rating to "buy" from "hold," in light of its improving return on assets and "extremely attractive low-cost deposit franchise."

The Elmira, N.Y.-based company's overall cost of deposits actually fell, in fact, as the Federal Reserve hiked rates five times, and is now at just 14 basis points. The stock has also been underperforming, down by 8.7% in the year to date, while its peer group has declined by less than 2%, according to the analyst.

Twerdahl lowered the price target by $2 to $51.

Notable reiterations

* Piper Jaffray's Nathan Race expects Heartland Financial USA Inc. to stay acquisitive, following discussions with the Dubuque, Iowa-based company's executives.

At least one more deal within its current footprint might be announced this year, the analyst said, and targets are still likely to be banks with $300 million to $2 billion in assets.

Race has an "overweight" rating on the stock and a $63 price target.

* Dallas-based Triumph Bancorp Inc., meanwhile, could sign one or two more deals in 2018, according to Stephens' Matt Olney.

Targets are anticipated to be deposit-rich and within the buyer's existing core footprint, and to have less than $1 billion in assets, the analyst added.

Olney kept his "overweight" rating on the stock and raised the price target by $6 to $47. Triumph's stock closed at $40.60 on Feb. 16.