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Sandler upgrades Customers Bancorp to 'buy'


Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst Frank Schiraldi raised Wyomissing, Pa.-based Customers Bancorp Inc.'s stock rating to "buy" from "hold," citing valuation.

The analyst kept Customers Bancorp's stock price target unchanged at $26.50.

Schiraldi wrote that Customers Bancorp offers good risk/reward as its stock is trading below tangible book and the company is posting positive earnings results with no imminent industry credit concerns in sight.

The analyst further wrote that the present valuation of Customers Bancorp's stock provides good downside support and there is still "optionality in shares from the potential for a sale of the BankMobile business."


Terry McEvoy of Stephens Inc. upgraded Wichita, Kan.-based Equity Bancshares Inc.'s stock rating to "overweight" from "equal-weight" and set a price target of $42.

The analyst wrote that shares of Equity Bancshares are undervalued following the recent pullback over the past quarter.

Regarding M&A, McEvoy wrote that "[Equity Bancshares'] track record in finding shareholder friendly bank deals gives us confidence going forward as it relates to M&A activity in their six state footprint."


McEvoy also upgraded his rating on Rosemont, Ill.-based Wintrust Financial Corp. to "overweight" from "equal-weight" and set the price target at $94.

Following a selloff over the last quarter, Wintrust Financial's shares, according to the analyst, are undervalued.

McEvoy further wrote that Wintrust Financial's strategy of using lower-cost community deposits to fund its commercial and niche lending platforms should aid above-peer revenue growth.


Stephens' Matt Olney is now covering Oklahoma City-based Bank7 Corp.'s stock. He gave it an "overweight" rating and established a price target of $25.

The analyst introduced Bank7 operating EPS projections at $2.20 for 2018 and $1.79 for 2019. The decrease in the projected 2019 operating EPS is due to Bank7's increased share count from its initial public offering.

The analyst wrote that Bank7 maintains significant exposure to three niche lending segments — energy, hospitality and agriculture. These segments provide Bank7 with outsize loan yields and above-peer profitability, Olney added.


Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. analyst Brady Gailey also initiated coverage of Bank7, at an "outperform" rating.

The analyst set Bank7's stock price target at $24 and established EPS estimates of $2.17 for 2018, $1.78 for 2019 and $2.02 for 2020.

Gailey wrote that "We like Bank7's differentiated business model which focuses on several higher-yielding commercial niche offerings, like energy, hospitality, construction and agriculture."