SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE:STI) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has a $49.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price indicates a potential upside of 11.92% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “SunTrust’s cost saving strategies has borne positive results as it continues to witness a downward trend in expenses.  Further, the company remains well positioned for future growth given its improving credit quality. Also, the gradually stabilizing energy sector as well as economic recovery will aid the company’s credit quality. Moreover, the company's steady capital deployment activities enhance shareholder value. However, a persistent low interest rate scenario affects the company’s top line items. NIM will continue to remain under pressure unless there is any significant increase in interest rates. Also, exposure to risky assets and increasing dependence on residential and commercial loan portfolio is expected to weigh on the company’s profitability in the near term.”

Several other equities analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Robert W. Baird upgraded shares of SunTrust Banks from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $41.00 target price for the company in a research note on Thursday, August 25th. Deutsche Bank AG reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $43.00 target price on shares of SunTrust Banks in a research note on Thursday, August 18th. Sanford C. Bernstein cut shares of SunTrust Banks from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $43.00 target price for the company. in a research note on Tuesday, August 16th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Compass Point boosted their target price on shares of SunTrust Banks from $45.00 to $48.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 26th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut shares of SunTrust Banks from a “conviction-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their target price for the company from $44.00 to $46.00 in a research note on Monday, July 25th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating, thirteen have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. SunTrust Banks has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $44.00.

Analyst Recommendations for SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI)

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Shares of SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI) opened at 43.78 on Wednesday. SunTrust Banks has a 52 week low of $31.07 and a 52 week high of $45.24. The stock has a market capitalization of $21.95 billion, a PE ratio of 11.85 and a beta of 1.31. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $43.04 and a 200-day moving average of $41.05.

SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 22nd. The financial services provider reported $0.94 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.88 by $0.06. SunTrust Banks had a net margin of 22.31% and a return on equity of 8.53%. The business earned $2.19 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.14 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.89 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 6.9% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts expect that SunTrust Banks will post $3.51 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, August 31st were issued a dividend of $0.26 per share. This is a positive change from SunTrust Banks’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.24. The ex-dividend date was Monday, August 29th. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.38%. SunTrust Banks’s dividend payout ratio is presently 28.18%.

In other news, insider Susan S. Johnson sold 1,118 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $42.40, for a total transaction of $47,403.20. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 1,119 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $47,445.60. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Insiders own 0.67% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Panagora Asset Management Inc. raised its stake in SunTrust Banks by 0.5% in the first quarter. Panagora Asset Management Inc. now owns 2,371,568 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $85,566,000 after buying an additional 11,760 shares during the last quarter. Endeavour Capital Advisors Inc. raised its stake in shares of SunTrust Banks by 69.1% in the first quarter. Endeavour Capital Advisors Inc. now owns 912,310 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $32,916,000 after buying an additional 372,871 shares in the last quarter. AMP Capital Investors Ltd raised its stake in shares of SunTrust Banks by 10.7% in the first quarter. AMP Capital Investors Ltd now owns 294,737 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $10,755,000 after buying an additional 28,469 shares in the last quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of SunTrust Banks by 4.6% in the first quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 212,692 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $7,674,000 after buying an additional 9,279 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Natixis raised its stake in shares of SunTrust Banks by 285.0% in the first quarter. Natixis now owns 633,437 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $22,854,000 after buying an additional 468,893 shares in the last quarter. 82.37% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

SunTrust Banks Company Profile

SunTrust Banks, Inc is a bank holding company and a financial holding company. Through its principal subsidiary, SunTrust Bank, the Company offers a line of financial services for consumers and businesses, including deposit, credit, mortgage banking, and trust and investment services. The Company’s other subsidiaries provide asset and wealth management, securities brokerage, and capital market services.

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