* Catherine Mealor raised Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc.'s stock rating, after "risks associated with [the BNC Bancorp] deal ... pushed [its price/earnings] multiple down by an unfair 4x over the past year."
The Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst said the stock price might be "at a turning point," and upgraded it to "outperform" from "market perform." Mealor thinks Nashville, Tenn.-based Pinnacle, "a darling of the SMID-cap bank space," has the potential to "deliver better EPS than even an optimistic Street expects."
Mealor increased the target price by $5 to $78.
* Sandler O'Neill & Partners now covers "emerging player" FVCBankcorp Inc.
Casey Whitman remarked on the Fairfax, Va.-based company's "superior growth trajectory in an attractive market" and its hiring of a management team that "investors should want to align themselves with in the long term."
The analyst noted the shares are currently listed on the OTCQX, but thinks they may trade on the Nasdaq within the year. Whitman rated the stock "hold" and gave it a price target of $19.
* FIG Partners initiated coverage of Defiance, Ohio-based SB Financial Group Inc.
The company's profitability, revenue diversification and capital levels notwithstanding, "shares continue to trade at a discount to Peer on both a P/E and P/TBV basis," wrote analyst Brian Martin. He attributed the gap to its below-peer institutional ownership, low tangible common equity level and investors' concerns about its mortgage exposure. But SB's recent capital raise addresses two of those issues, he argued, and mortgages are a core competency for the company.
Martin rated the stock "outperform" and gave it a $22 price target.