Columbia Banking System (NASDAQ:COLB) and First Citizens BancShares (NASDAQ:FCNCA) are both mid-cap finance companies, but which is the better stock? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their dividends, earnings, valuation, institutional ownership, risk, analyst recommendations and profitability.

Profitability

This table compares Columbia Banking System and First Citizens BancShares’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Columbia Banking System 30.12% 9.01% 1.40%
First Citizens BancShares 24.62% 11.79% 1.16%

Dividends

Columbia Banking System pays an annual dividend of $1.12 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.4%. First Citizens BancShares pays an annual dividend of $1.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.4%. Columbia Banking System pays out 45.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Columbia Banking System has increased its dividend for 8 consecutive years. Columbia Banking System is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings for Columbia Banking System and First Citizens BancShares, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Columbia Banking System 0 2 3 0 2.60
First Citizens BancShares 0 0 0 0 N/A

Columbia Banking System presently has a consensus price target of $42.60, suggesting a potential upside of 27.74%. Given Columbia Banking System’s higher probable upside, equities analysts clearly believe Columbia Banking System is more favorable than First Citizens BancShares.

Volatility & Risk

Columbia Banking System has a beta of 1.03, suggesting that its share price is 3% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, First Citizens BancShares has a beta of 1.21, suggesting that its share price is 21% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Columbia Banking System and First Citizens BancShares’ top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Columbia Banking System $585.33 million 4.19 $172.88 million $2.47 13.50
First Citizens BancShares $1.65 billion 2.90 $400.31 million N/A N/A

First Citizens BancShares has higher revenue and earnings than Columbia Banking System.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

90.2% of Columbia Banking System shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 44.6% of First Citizens BancShares shares are held by institutional investors. 0.9% of Columbia Banking System shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 16.2% of First Citizens BancShares shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, large money managers and hedge funds believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

Columbia Banking System beats First Citizens BancShares on 9 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Columbia Banking System

Columbia Banking System, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for Columbia State Bank that provides a range of banking services to small and medium-sized businesses, professionals, and individuals in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It offers personal banking products and services, including noninterest and interest-bearing checking, saving, money market, and certificate of deposit accounts; home mortgages for purchases and refinances, home equity loans and lines of credit, and personal loans; debit and credit cards; and digital banking services. The company also provides business banking products and services, such as checking, savings, interest-bearing money market, and certificate of deposit accounts; agricultural loans, asset-based loans, builder and other commercial real estate loans, and loans guaranteed by the small business administration; debit and credit cards; and professional banking, treasury management, merchant card, and international banking services. In addition, it offers wealth management services in the areas of private banking, financial services, and trust and investment services to individuals, families, and professional businesses. Further, the company provides fiduciary, agency, trust, and related services, as well as life insurance products. As of December 31, 2018, the company had 150 branches. Columbia Banking System, Inc. was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Tacoma, Washington.

About First Citizens BancShares

First Citizens BancShares, Inc. operates as the holding company for First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company that provides banking services to retail and commercial customers. Its deposit products include checking, savings, money market and time deposit accounts. The company's loan products portfolio comprises commercial construction and land development, commercial mortgage, commercial and industrial, lease financing, and other commercial real estate loans; and noncommercial construction and land development, residential mortgage, revolving mortgage, consumer loans, and construction and land development loans. It also offers treasury services products, cardholder and merchant services, wealth management services, and various other products and services; investment services, including annuities, discount brokerage services, and third-party mutual funds, as well as investment advisory services; trust and asset management services; and title insurance products. The company offers its products and services through its branch network, as well as through digital banking, telephone banking, and various ATM networks. As of December 31, 2017, it operated 545 branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1898 and is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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