BUSE Earnings Update

First Busey (BUSE) reported Q3 results last night showing that while net interest margin pressure remains, other metrics of the business remain stable. EPS of $0.55 vs. $0.65 a year ago and $0.52 in the second quarter made for $0.04 above expectations, with the upside versus our expectations driven by a lower-than-expected credit provision (their non-performing loans declined 23.6%).

BUSE’s balance sheet and conservative approach to credit should get them past any tough economic times. A Common Equity Ratio of 12.5% means little changed from last quarter, and it’s superior to many large-cap banks. The quarter’s deposits and loan trends were favorable, up 2.9% and 1% respectively. Pressure on interest margins could continue, and limit EPS to $2.00 a share next year, but the stock is very cheap at 9X this estimate and a 5.1% dividend yield.

BUSE remains a buy below $20, my target is $25.