Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) to “Buy”

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Tuesday, December 19th. Zacks Investment Research currently has $56.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Hancock Holding have outpaced the industry so far this year. Moreover, the company’s earnings have surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. Strategic initiatives, growth in loan and deposit balances and improving rate environment will likely continue to support the company's profitability. Given a solid capital position, the company will be able to enhance shareholder value through regular dividend payments. Notably, its deal to acquire the asset management and trust business of Capital One is expected to be accretive to earnings. However, continued rise in operating expenses and high exposure to risky loan portfolios remain major concerns for the company.”

A number of other research firms have also issued reports on HBHC. BidaskClub lowered shares of Hancock from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Tuesday, December 12th. SunTrust Banks reissued a hold rating and issued a $53.00 price target on shares of Hancock in a research report on Wednesday, November 29th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Hancock from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $52.00 price objective on shares of Hancock in a research report on Thursday, October 12th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed an overweight rating and set a $52.00 price objective on shares of Hancock in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eight have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $53.23.

Hancock (NASDAQ HBHC) traded up $0.80 during trading hours on Tuesday, hitting $53.90. 595,759 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 640,457. Hancock has a one year low of $41.05 and a one year high of $54.13. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.12, a quick ratio of 0.82 and a current ratio of 0.82. The company has a market cap of $4,540.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.65, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.88 and a beta of 0.91.

Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, October 17th. The financial services provider reported $0.76 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.74 by $0.02. Hancock had a net margin of 19.08% and a return on equity of 8.27%. The company had revenue of $269.97 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $279.80 million. During the same period last year, the company posted $0.59 earnings per share. equities analysts forecast that Hancock will post 2.74 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 15th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, December 5th were paid a $0.24 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, December 4th. This represents a $0.96 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.78%. Hancock’s payout ratio is 38.55%.

In other Hancock news, insider Samuel B. Kendricks sold 2,982 shares of Hancock stock in a transaction on Monday, November 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.62, for a total transaction of $144,984.84. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 1.15% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Hancock by 25.9% in the 2nd quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 2,820 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $137,000 after purchasing an additional 581 shares in the last quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank raised its holdings in shares of Hancock by 14.2% in the second quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank now owns 3,248 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $159,000 after buying an additional 404 shares during the last quarter. Hayek Kallen Investment Management bought a new position in shares of Hancock in the second quarter valued at about $204,000. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board bought a new position in shares of Hancock in the second quarter valued at about $216,000. Finally, Sabal Trust CO bought a new position in shares of Hancock in the third quarter valued at about $216,000. Institutional investors own 77.21% of the company’s stock.

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About Hancock

Hancock Holding Company is a financial services company that provides a network of service financial choices to the Gulf South region, through its bank subsidiary, Whitney Bank (the Bank), a Mississippi state bank. The Company operates through overall banking operations segment. The Bank operates under brands, such as Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and Whitney Bank in Louisiana and Texas.

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