When it comes to return on equity, 10 is the new 13.
A couple of years ago, a three-year average return on equity of 10 percent would have been seen as subpar, while 13 percent would have been just good enough earn a bank a spot in U.S. Banker's annual ranking of the top 200 community banks. By today's standards, though, a 10 percent ROE is more than respectable-nearly half the field in this year's top 200 were in the single digits-and banks with ROEs of 13 percent or better are stars.
The biggest star of all these days is HBancorporation. According to data compiled by SNL Financial LC, the parent of Heritage State Bank ranked as the top performer among those with less than $2 billion of assets for the second consecutive year. Only one other company, Suffolk Bancorp, has ranked among the top 10 for two years running.
Once again, Pennsylvania had the most banks on the list, with 31-not bad for a state many consider to be overbanked. Still, in this economy, a bank's fortunes can turn in a hurry. Two banks that ranked among the top 50 last year have since failed, and unless the economy stages a spectacular recovery, it's a good bet that some on the current top 200 list won't be around this time next year.