2 local banks rank near top, 2 hit bottom rating

The newest rating on the health of local banks sent a mixed message Monday -- two were near the top in performance, while two received the lowest score.

Bank of Commerce and LandMark Bank of Florida, both in Sarasota, received the lowest possible ranking of zero stars from bank analyst Bauer Financial.

The highest ranking -- five stars -- was not given to any local bank. But two did receive four stars -- Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida in Sarasota and First America Bank in Bradenton.

Three others received three stars -- 1st Manatee Bank in Parrish, Community Bank of Manatee in Lakewood Ranch and Insignia Bank of Sarasota.

One bank -- Sabel Palm Bank of Sarasota -- received a two-star rating.

Both Gateway and First America have maintained their last-quarter ranking of four stars.

“We’re very pleased with Gateway’s performance in this challenging economy,” said Shaun Merriman, president and chief executive officer. “We have money to lend, and our excellent performance in the most recent Bauer ratings underscores our commitment to quality.”

LandMark and Bank of Commerce had previously been ranked zero stars in the last quarter results reported in December. LandMark Bank was given a prompt corrective action in September by regulators and is attempting to raise new capital or sell.

LandMark Bank announced plans to inject new capital into the bank Sept. 23 when the prompt corrective action directive went public. That plan included extending its common stock offering to investors specifically interested in Florida-based financial institutions. In addition, the bank had found a buyer for its Lakewood Ranch branch at Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Regulators have deemed the bank under-capitalized since 2009.

“We are still in the midst of a capital campaign, we have an offering under way,” said Frank Knautz, consultant for LandMark.

Bauer began rating financial institutions in 1983 and analyzes the health of a bank based on capital levels, profits, loan delinquencies, repossessed assets, reserves, regulatory compliance and asset quality.