Stock Conversion Opportunity for Bank Investors
Updated with comments from Investors Bancorp chief operating officer Domenick Cama.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors may be looking at an excellent low-risk opportunity, on the anticipated second-step conversion of Investors Bancorp (ISBC) of Short Hills, N.J., to full stock ownership.
Investors Bancorp is part of a mutual thrift holding company structure, with Investors Bancorp MHC holding 58.7% of the common shares as of Dec. 30.
Shares of Investors Bancorp closed at $15.52 Friday, returning 15% year-to-date, following a 3% return during 2011. Last year's return was quite impressive, if you compare it to a 25% decline for the KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) .
Sterne Agee analyst Matthew Kelley on Friday reiterated his "Buy" rating for Investors Bancorp, with a $17 price target, saying that the shares "remain undervalued trading at roughly 95% of estimated fully converted tangible book value (TBV)," while "recently converted Northeast peers now trade at roughly 125% of TBV."
Kelley added that "with capital approaching 8% and returns on equity approaching 10%, we continue to believe the company will undergo a second step conversion
Sterne Agee estimates that the company's fully converted tangible book value would be $15.63, growing by "an additional 4% (to $16.25) over the next year." Kelley also said that Investors Bancorp "executed on several transactions, opportunistically repurchased shares, and improved
The analyst said that the company's "fundamental improvements combined with astute capital actions warrant a higher second-step valuation," and that a conversion offering at 95% of tangible book value "out one year from now would produce a $17 fully converted TBV in current terms," supporting Sterne Agee's price target.
Then again, investors may eventually place a premium on a strongly capitalized institution, migrating to a commercial banking model, with steadily improving earnings performance. Following a second-step conversion, Investors Bancorp would be sitting on excess capital, which it could put to work through further acquisitions, or, eventually a return of capital to investors through dividends and/or share buybacks.