* Raymond James analyst Michael Rose upgraded Independent Bank Group Inc. to "strong buy" from "outperform." Rose wrote that the approximately 15% drop in stock following the announcement of Independent's deal with Denver-based Guaranty Bancorp has been "too steep." The McKinney, Texas-based company also closed a deal for Houston-based Integrity Bank SSB on June 1. Between the announcement of the new deal and the integration of the closed deal, there may be "some noise" in the third quarter, but the analyst's "conversations with management support its nearer-term guidance/outlook."
* Sandler O'Neill analyst Mark Fitzgibbon upgraded Westerly, R.I.-based Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. to "buy" from "hold," with a 12-month price target of $63 and an EPS estimate of $3.94 for 2018 and $4.25 for 2019. Fitzgibbon said the bank was well-positioned for higher rates, with approximately $1.6 billion of its loans based on the London interbank offered rate or prime rates. He also noted management of deposits, including expansion into municipal deposit-gathering in 13 municipalities in Rhode Island. Fitzgibbon also mentioned the company's "tight control over credit," expansion into new states and focus on organic growth as positives. The company also fills a niche for midsize banks in New England, according to the report.
* Raymond James analyst Donald Worthington upgraded Los Angeles-based Preferred Bank to "strong buy" from "outperform," citing valuation. He noted the approximately 17% drop in stock price since July 5. Worthington wrote that the bank "has generated above-average profitability metrics." He pointed out strong organic growth in both loans and deposits and wrote that the company's asset-sensitive balance sheet leaves it "well-positioned for rising interest rates." He wrote that the bank is "well-positioned for future growth given its healthy capital ratios."