COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Synovus Financial Corp. expects to meet analysts' consensus estimate that it will earn about 27 cents a share in the second quarter, up from 23 cents in the same period last year.

Richard Illges, investor relations director for the Georgia-based holding company, said in an interview that the company also expects to achieve the consensus target of $ 1.10 a share for all of 1993.

Synovus' loan and asset growth so far this year has been about 5% to 6% and "there's a chance we could get to 8% if we work real hard in the second half," Mr. Illges said.

Greater Market Share

Half of the increase in loans reflects Synovus banks' taking market share from competitors, with the rest representing new demand, he added.

The company, which owns 31 community banks mostly in smaller cities and towns of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, is finding that its main loan growth this year is coming from small business.

"We're also starting to see signs of a pickup in residential housing and smaller commercial development, and that's encouraging," Mr. Illges said.

Though "people are still pretty cautious and conservative due to the [Clinton administration's] tax plan," he said the company's growth is not dependent on a major economic rebound.

"Most of our business is in small towns that didn't boom in the 1980s but also didn't crash like the metro areas during the recession," he said. "We call them no-boom, no-bust economies, which are a pretty healthy climate for running a bank."

By the fourth quarter, Synovus expects its return on assets to improve to 1.50%, versus 1.29% in the first quarter, Mr. Illges said.

Not counting the company's majority stake in credit card processor Total System Services Inc., banking operations are expected to earn 1.25% on assets by yearend. Minus acquisitions, the banks alone are capable of boosting return on assets to 1.40% in 1994, he added.

The company also expects its return on equity will improve to 18% by the fourth quarter. Synovus had previously set a goal of 17% by April 1994.

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