SVB, Parent of Silicon Valley Bank, May Be the Top Bank of 2018

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SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ: SIVB) may have turned out to be the most prized bank in America after earnings season for the first quarter of 2018. After looking over its earnings report, looking at its stock gains, and after parsing over analyst calls, there’s a lot to love here. What investors need to consider is that SVB is the parent of Silicon Valley Bank. In case you hadn’t been watching the news in the last few years, there are a lot of great things happening for its business out there.

Still, some investors might want to take note of a few ratios and statistics here, as well as just how much the gain has been. The stock looks to be the best performing regional to multi-regional bank with billions in assets so far in 2018. That said, some investors need to wonder if SVB shares are now priced for absolute perfection ahead?

When the Santa Clara, California-based bank reported earnings last week, the company blew away expectations with a report of $3.63 per share (over 50-cents above consensus) and revenue of $587.9 million (or $575.4 million adjusted) was handily above expectations as well.

One issue that may be of concern is that SVB Financial Group shares rose almost 20% after beating expectations. Almost no other financial institution from the S&P 500 can claim that after this was more or less a “sell the news” earnings season in a picky stock market.

The bank’s metrics looked solid enough compared to other larger banks. Its average loan balances rose by over 6%, fixed income securities rose almost 1%, client funds rose almost 8%, net interest income rose by 6.5%, and net loan charge-offs were just 15 basis points of the average total gross loans.    reported loan growth of 20% on a 12% rise in deposits. SVB is a diversified financial company that also has a money management division, and that area also generated substantial profits and growth in assets under management. Between lower taxes, higher interest rates, and solid loan quality, SVB is firing on all cylinders, and the bank boosted its 2018 outlook with several ideas for how it can continue to grow.

One issue which may spook some investors is the valuation. SVB’s book value per common share rose to $83.43 from $79.11 at the end of 2017, but now it has a share price north of $300. It is not usual for banks to trade at more than 3.5 times their book value. Some of this premium is because SVB gets access to future Unicorn companies as it can get stakes in venture capital financings. In Silicon Valley and in its core markets, that can be a big deal.

Analysts jumped all over shares of SVB with higher price targets. These were just some of the research calls with upgrades and/or price target hikes seen after earnings.

Barclays (Equal Weight) raised its target to $327 from $277.

D.A. Davidson (Neutral) raised its target to $315 from $285.

JMP Securities (Outperform) raised its target to $345 from $290.

Maxim Group (Buy) raised its target to $350 from $300.

Morgan Stanley (Overweight) raised its target to $335 from $280.

RBC (Outperform) raised its target to $300 from $275.

Wedbush (Neutral) raised its target to $315 from $265.

And according to SVB Financial Group President & CEO Greg Becker:

The first quarter marked a tremendous start to the year, with better-than-expected performance in nearly every part of the business and a significantly improved outlook for 2018. Our effective execution across all of our initiatives, together with the exceptional liquidity being deployed in the innovation ecosystem, drove outstanding growth on and off the balance sheet; and we saw significant additional benefits from higher interest rates and lower taxes, as well as continued solid credit performance.

Shares of SVB are now up roughly 20% over the last week, up 30% over the last month, and are up over 60% from a year ago. After a $2.00 gain to $307.50 on Wednesday, its 52-week range is $159.44 to $309.40. SVB has a market cap of just $16 billion.

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