Hovde Group analyst Ben Gerlinger on Friday said BayCom Corp. (BCML), Sierra Bancorp (BSRR), California Bancorp (CALB) and RBB Bancorp (RBB) appear to be best positioned to outperform peers amid an uptick in mergers and acquisitions among banks in the California market. "Following more than a decade of under-punching rival geographies in both number of deals and total assets acquired, California-based bank M&A is once again alive and well," Gerlinger said in a research note. "More importantly, as the industry comes to grips with the necessity of bulking up asset bases in order to spread ever-increasing technology costs across a larger balance sheet, deal pricing/structure and the pro forma strategy is likely to separate the would-be winners from the rest of the pack." He views RBB Bancorp (RBB) as undervalued relative to its peers because of its expected loan growth, stable net interest margin, re-acceleration of organic growth and potential M&A opportunities. California BanCorp (CALB) drew praise from Gerlinger for its organic growth path and improvement in its margins. RBB Bancorp shares are up 61% so far this year and California BanCorp is up 10.9%. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) is up 25.6%.
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