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Analysts downgrade Cadence following 2 quarters of credit quality issues

Downgrades

J.P. Morgan analyst Steven Alexopoulos downgraded Houston-based Cadence Bancorp. following a second consecutive quarter of credit quality issues.

Alexopoulos wrote that he expected Cadence to show that its second-quarter credit quality issues were largely contained, but third-quarter results were "worse than expected." The results were impacted by sharper write-down taken on previously identified problem loans, continued negative credit migration into potential problem loans and mid-single-digit loan growth for 2020.

The analyst downgraded the company's stock rating to "neutral" from "overweight" and lowered the price target to $16.50 from $20.00. He lowered his 2019 adjusted EPS estimate to $1.80 from $2.00 and his 2020 estimate to $2.05 from $2.13.

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Piper Jaffray analyst Brett Rabatin also downgraded Cadence Bancorp., writing that asset quality woes may be an ongoing issue for several more quarters.

Rabatin wrote that value expansion is unlikely, provisioning is difficult to predict and growth expectations are at risk.

He downgraded the company's stock rating to "neutral" from "overweight" and lowered the price target to $16.50 from $20. He maintained his 2019 EPS estimate of $1.80, but lowered his 2020 estimate to $1.83 from $2.03.

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Sandler O'Neill analyst Tim O'Brien downgraded Greenwood Village, Colo.-based National Bank Holdings Corp., driven primarily by net interest margin compression.

O'Brien wrote that he believes the prospect of an additional rate cut in the fourth quarter will weigh heavily on the company's NIM and net interest income. However, he wrote that the company still has "decent" near-term organic growth and M&A prospects.

The analyst downgraded the company's stock rating to "hold" and lowered the price target to $35 from $40. He lowered his 2019 EPS estimate by 6 cents to $2.42 and his 2020 estimate by 20 cents to $2.20.

Upgrades

J.P. Morgan's Alexopoulos upgraded Miami Lakes, Fla.-based BankUnited Inc. for the first time in almost two years.

Alexopoulos wrote that after the company reported third-quarter earnings, Street estimates appear achievable and the forward price-to-earnings ratio premium has eroded considerably.

The analyst upgraded the company's stock rating to "neutral" from "underweight" and raised the price target to $37 from $34. He maintained his 2019 EPS estimate of $2.79, but increased his 2020 estimate to $3.08 from $3.01.

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Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Catherine Mealor upgraded Reliant Bancorp Inc. following the announcement of its second acquisition in five weeks.

Reliant announced its acquisition of Tennessee Community Bank Holdings Inc. on Sept. 16, then its acquisition of First Advantage Bancorp on Oct. 23. According to the analyst, the deals will put the company above $3 billion in pro forma assets.

The larger scale and enhanced profitability make the company more attractive to potential buyers looking to enter the middle Tennessee market, she wrote. The two acquisitions will also enhance Reliant's ability to acquire smaller companies.

The analyst upgraded the company's stock rating to "outperform" and increased the price target to $26 from $25. She maintained her 2019 EPS estimate of $1.45, but increased her 2020 EPS estimate to $2.00 from $1.77.

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Sandler O'Neill analyst Brendan Nosal upgraded Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Waterstone Financial Inc. following the company's third-quarter earnings results.

Nosal wrote that he is upgrading the company's stock rating due to the "substantial" third-quarter beat and his conversations with management.

The analyst upgraded the company's stock rating to "buy" from "hold" with a price target of $19.50. He raised his 2019 EPS estimate to $1.29 from $1.15 and his 2020 EPS estimate to $1.17 from $1.16.