* Daniel Cardenas of Raymond James raised Farmers National Banc Corp.'s stock rating to "outperform" from "market perform." The analyst set a new price target of $16 for the Canfield, Ohio-based company.
Cardenas noted Farmers National's recent lending talent additions and solid calling efforts across the company's footprint as factors supporting the company's high-single-digit loan growth outlook. Farmers National's expense control and strong credit culture contribute to improving profitability metrics, the analyst wrote.
Farmers National's present valuation levels, however, are not on par with the company's consistent profitability improvements over the past few years, the analyst added.
* D.A. Davidson & Co.'s Jeff Rulis upgraded Greenwood Village, Colo.-based National Bank Holdings Corp.'s stock rating to "buy" from "hold" and raised the price target to $38 from $36.
The analyst wrote that the shares of National Bank Holdings rose 5% during the trailing 12 months, which is less than half of the Nasdaq Bank Index's 13% move.
Rulis noted a drop in National Bank Holdings' nonperforming assets and non 310-30 classified assets of 32% and 44%, respectively, for the year 2017. The analyst anticipates a continuation of the downward trend in National Bank Holdings' nonperforming assets and an approximately 10% decrease in the company's provision expense in 2018, compared to 2017.
* B. Riley FBR's Steve Moss raised BB&T Corp.'s stock rating to "buy" from "neutral" on a decent earnings outlook and a recent pullback in shares. The analyst also raised the price target for the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company to $59 from $55.
The analyst wrote that BB&T's improving revenue outlook due to modest loan growth, higher fee income and flat expenses are expected to improve the company's profitability in 2018.
* Wells Fargo Securities analyst Elyse Greenspan also upgraded BB&T's stock rating to "outperform" from "market perform." The analyst raised BB&T's price target to $63 from $55.
The analyst wrote that BB&T should inflect on efficiency, growth, returns and stock price, given that the company's headwinds from regulation, technology and deals are mostly over.
* Blair Brantley of Brean Capital is now covering Stamford, Conn.-based Patriot National Bancorp Inc.'s stock. He gave it a "buy" rating and a price target of $24.
The analyst noted Patriot National's recent and projected improvements in the legacy franchise, combined with the closing of Hana Financial Inc.'s acquisition, as justification of a fuller valuation.
* D.A. Davidson now covers Lancaster, Pa.-based Fulton Financial Corp., which analyst Russell Gunther described as "tucked in, not yet ready to break out." Gunther gave the company a "neutral" rating.
The analyst wrote that Fulton Financial has created a "robust risk framework that can support a bank double its size." Mid-single-digit organic loan growth coupled with active capital return has resulted in Fulton Financial repurchasing about 16% of its shares since June 2012.
Gunther noted, however, that Fulton Financial's expenses are likely not going to drop even after the resolution of its remaining regulatory orders and the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into the company's fair lending practices.