By Michael Bradwell, Observer Reporter Business editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 22, 2015
CB Financial Services Inc. has been on a roll since completing its merger with First Federal Savings Bank and its start of trading on the NASDAQ Exchange in November.
In the months after the merger, the Carmichaelsbased bank holding company, which sports the Community Bank badge at its 16 offices, has been recognized for its financial performance by the American Bankers Association, which in June placed CB Financial among its top 200 publicly traded community banks and thrifts with less than $2 billion in assets, as well as placement on the prestigious ABA NASDAQ Community Bank Index.
But more recent events may promote even broader interest in the stock.
Last month, CB Financial executives gathered at the NASDAQ Exchange in New York’s Times Square to ring the closing bell, but perhaps the biggest reverberation to come out of the Big Apple is that CBFV, as it’s known by its ticker symbol, is now being covered by a major New York equity research firm.
On Wednesday, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, which specializes in financial services, initiated coverage of CB Financial with an “outperform” rating.
Writing in his initial report, KBW analyst Michael Perito noted the bank’s century-plus legacy in the region’s banking, before turning his attention to itsmore recent history.
“Despite its long-tenured roots in Southwestern Pennsylvania, CB Financial Services Inc. has experienced multiple changes over the past several years, including the quick rise of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale but also its transformational acquisition of FedFirst Financial, which grew the bank’s size by approximately 60 percent,” Perito wrote in his introduction. “Today, given its above- average return profile, 4.2 percent dividend yield, additional excess capital and cheap valuation, we believe the shares represent an attractive long-term investment opportunity in small-cap bank land.”
According to Perito, with its acquisition of FedFirst Financial, “CB Financial is well on its way to becoming one of the major community bank players in the Southwestern part of Pennsylvania. With approximately $850 million in assets today and aspiration to surpass $1.0 billion over the next several years, the company already boasts an above-average return profile compared to other banks of similar size.”
Perito gave the stock an outperform rating and a $25 price target, or a 26 percent upside to its Wednesday share price of $19.90. On Friday, the stock was trading at $21.
Perito, who notes CB Financial’s footprint is located squarely in the heart of the Marcellus Shale region, has, despite recent volatility in the energy sector, “seen meaningful benefit from heightened economic activity in their local markets, including a higher need for wealth management services, increasing indirect auto activity, as well as more real estate and hotel lending opportunities.
“While the future economic impact of natural gas drilling to the region is uncertain, we would note that considerable resources are still being spent in the region on infrastructure and future extraction opportunities,” he wrote.
CB Financial CEO Pat McCune said Thursday that receiving analyst coverage is the next step in giving the stock, which had been closely held, a much broader play in the market.
“I can’t think of another local bank” that is receiving analyst coverage, he said.