TEXT-S&P says Zions Bancorporation ratings unaffected by Q3 results

Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:52pm EDT

Oct 23 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today said its ratings on Zions Bancorporation (BBB-/Negative/A-3) are not immediately affected by the company's third-quarter results, which were generally consistent with our expectations. Net earnings applicable to common shareholders were approximately $62 million, compared with $55 million in the previous quarter. A loan-loss provision credit and lower noninterest expenses aided results, although the company reported a decline in the core net interest margin (NIM) and lower noninterest income. Specifically, the core NIM declined 12 basis points to 3.60% from 3.72% in the second quarter. We think the fairly high NIM could decline further in 2013, as adjustable-rate loans reset to lower rates and loans with interest-rate floors continue to mature. However, we think loan growth could partially offset this. The loan-loss provision was significantly below net charge-offs, similar to recent quarters, but reserve coverage appears adequate, in our view. Loan performance improved again, as the sequential declines in nonperforming loans, classified loans (excluding FDIC-supported loans), and net charge-offs demonstrate. Average loans and leases rose modestly from last quarter, and average total deposits rose 1.2% sequentially. Net impairment losses on investment securities declined to about $2.7 million, and we believe that potential additional losses in the portfolio will be modest. Risk-based capital ratios rose in the quarter as a result of earnings retention, and the tangible common equity ratio rose to 7.17% from 6.91% at the end of second quarter. We also view positively the redemption in the third quarter of the remaining $700 million of the $1.4 billion in cumulative perpetual preferred shares Zions sold to the U.S. Treasury. This will significantly benefit earnings available to common shareholders, given the absence of preferred dividends.

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