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D.A. Davidson initiates coverage of First Financial Northwest


D.A. Davidson analyst Jeff Rulis initiated coverage of witha "neutral" rating and a 12-month price target of $15.

His 2016, 2017 and 2018 EPS estimates are 63 cents, 90 centsand $1.00, respectively.

The analyst noted that the company successfully navigated throughregulatory scrutiny following the financial crisis. In addition, the company focusedon building a commercial bank presence, diversifying fee income, optimizing itsdelivery system and developing niche lending platforms. He highlighted that throughits niche lending strategies, the company has been successful in growing its marketshare in the Chinese/American sector and aircraft financing. In addition, the companyreported expanded fee income after launching its wealth management business linein May 2015.

As the company is currently operating in "one of the mostvibrant" economies in the West, the analyst thinks that it will be able todeploy excess capital and gain market share.

Piper Jaffray analyst Matthew Breese initiated coverage of Souderton,Pa.-based Univest Corp. of Pennsylvaniaat "overweight" and a 12-month price target of $24.

His 2016, 2017 and 2018 EPS estimates are $1.50, $1.75 and $2.00,respectively.

The analyst highlighted that the company has very strong profitabilitymetrics. In addition, it has diversified revenue streams and is positioned in thedisrupted Eastern Pennsylvania markets. He also noted that the company is attractivelyvalued as it is currently trading at 11.9x 2017 estimated EPS.

Breese also noted that the company is not very well known amongthe investor community; however, he thinks that it will change.  He noted that the company is trying to be moreengaging with its investors, including hosting a quarterly conference call. Furthermore,he highlighted that the acquisitionof Fox Chase Bancorp Inc.helped increase the company's market cap size to more than $500 million on pro formabasis.

"We believe these changes coupled with continued solid fundamentals,will help drive a multiple more in line with peers and near 20% returns to shareholdersover the next year," the analyst added.

Dropped coverage

Laurie Havener Hunsicker, a Compass Point Research & TradingLLC analyst, dropped coverage of Buffalo, N.Y.-based First Niagara Financial Group Inc., following the Fed's of the /First Niagara deal.

Hunsicker's last rating on the company was "buy" witha 12-month price target of $13.