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Piper Sandler upgrades Bank OZK, names it top US bank pick for 2020


Piper Sandler Equity Research Group Managing Director Stephen Scouten upgraded Little Rock, Ark.-based Bank OZK and named the company his top pick for 2020.

The bank's two-turn price-to-earnings discount in its shares could diminish throughout 2020 as it delivers solid earnings and moves away from credit noise seen in the third quarter of 2018, Scouten wrote.

Scouten said there is more potential upside than downside to the company's estimates due to a more stable interest rate environment and a return to more rapid growth in the second half of 2020.

Scouten upgraded the company's stock rating to "overweight" from "neutral" and raised the price target to $37 from $32. His EPS estimates are $3.26 for 2019, $2.98 for 2020 and $3.10 for 2021.


D.A. Davidson analyst Russell Gunther upgraded Marietta, Ohio-based Peoples Bancorp Inc.

The company's shares are at a discounted valuation with catalysts to produce above peer returns, the analyst wrote.

Gunther upgraded the company's stock rating to "buy" from "neutral" and raised the price target to $40 from $35. He raised his EPS estimates to $2.87 and $2.82 from $2.77 and $2.64 for 2019 and 2020, respectively.