Florida banks are continuing their remarkable recovery, according to BauerFinancial’s latest bank ratings.
Fully 41 percent of Florida-based institutions received a mark of “recommended” from BauerFinancial, a research firm in Coral Gables. That’s up from only 31 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and 21 percent in the first quarter of 2011.
The mortgage meltdown and the collapse of Florida’s economy hit banks hard. Now, the survivors are starting to lend again, said BauerFinancial President Karen Dorway.
“We’re definitely seeing things go in the right direction,” Dorway said. “Captial is improving. Profitability is improving. It’s not just a hunker-down approach any more.”
Among the banks showing improvement in the first quarter of 2013 are Seacoast National Bank of Stuart, which rose to three and a half stars, or “good,” from three stars, or “adequate,” in the fourth quarter. Grand Bank & Trust of West Palm Beach climbed to two stars, or “problematic,” from one star, or “troubled.”
FirstCity Bank of Commerce in North Palm Beach rose to five stars, or “superior,” from four stars, or “excellent.” And First Southern Bank of Boca Raton was upgraded to four stars from three and a half.
BauerFinancial bases its ratings on such factors as profits and capital. As the Florida real estate market and economy have rebounded, and as the least healthy banks have been closed down by regulators, the survivors find their financial pictures brightening.
However, the rising tide isn’t lifting all boats. Still rated zero — BauerFinancial’s lowest rating — are Anchor Commercial Bank of Juno Beach and Legacy Bank of Florida.
Anchor Commercial reported a profit of $26,000 in the first quarter, up from a loss of $2.2 million a year ago. However, Anchor Commercial’s equity capital ratio remained at a rock-bottom 2.4 percent, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Legacy Bank reported a first-quarter profit of $110,000 and an equity capital ratio of 5.1 percent.
Dorway isn’t surprised that weak banks continue to struggle.
“It takes time to work through the problems,” she said.