Publicly traded banks are healthy

The overall financial health of 289 publicly traded banks in the United States improved in the past year, according to a new national study.

The banks in the 2013 Bank Performance Scorecard by Bank Director magazine performed better they did in the 2012 rankings, with median values rising overall in the five performance metrics: profitability measured by core return on average assets and core return on average equity; capital strength measured by the ratio of tangible common equity to tangible assets; and asset quality indicated by the ratio of nonperforming assets to total loans, and the ratio of net charge-offs to average loans.

Banks were divided into three asset categories and ranked by scores based on profitability, asset quality and capitalization during the 2012 calendar year.

Waterstone Financial Inc., the Wauwatosa-based holding company for WaterStone Bank, ranked 22nd of 187 financial institutions in the $1 billion to $5 billion asset category, or in the top 12 percent, according to the Scorecard.

WaterStone’s 2013 rank of 22nd (with a final score of 189.5) in its asset category marked a significant improvement over its 2012 rank of 157th.

“We are very proud to be recognized as a high-performing bank,” said Doug Gordon, president and chief executive officer of WaterStone Bank. “Our dedicated employees have worked hard to achieve these results.”

WaterStone Bank was established in 1921 and has eight branch offices located in Wauwatosa, Franklin/Hales Corners, Germantown/Menomonee Falls, Oak Creek, Oconomowoc/Lake Country, Pewaukee, Waukesha/Brookfield and West Allis and mortgage banking offices in 12 states.

Waterstone was the highest ranking of four Wisconsin-based financial institutions included on the Scorecard. The other Badger State banks in the study included: Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp. (60th among banks with $5 billion to $50 billion in assets); Madison-based First Business Financial Services Inc. (62nd among banks with $1 billion to $5 billion); and Brown Deer-based Bank Mutual Corp. (136th among banks with $1 billion to $5 billion).

Several out-of-state banks that have branches in Wisconsin also were included on the 2013 Scorecard. The largest of those, ranked in the category of $50 billion and above, were: U.S. Bancorp (ranked third); Wells Fargo & Co. (fifth); Fifth Third Bancorp. (seventh); PNC Financial Services (ninth); Northern Trust Corp. (12th); JPMorgan Chase & Co. (14th); and Bank of America Corp. (19th).

Out-of-state banks doing business in Wisconsin in the $5 billion to $50 billion category included: Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. (14th);

FirstMerit Corp. (35th); Wintrust Financial Corp. (70th); PrivateBancorp Inc. (71st); and TCF Financial Corp. (80th).

“Large, publicly traded banks have put the Great Recession behind them, based on the results of Bank Director’s annual performance ranking…The improvement in the profitability of large, publicly traded banks, which was evident in the 2012 Bank Performance Scorecard ranking, became even more apparent in this year’s ranking,” the magazine reported. “If there was a single earnings driver that a broad range of publicly owned institutions benefited from last year, it was mortgage banking. The combination of low interest rates and a gradual recovery in housing prices nationwide sparked a home mortgage refinancing boom that many banks cashed in on.”

Since 1991, Bank Director has served as a leading information resource for the directors and officers of financial institutions. Bank Director is published by DirectorCorps and headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

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