New bank rating shows the best and worst in Manatee, Sarasota institutions

MANATEE — The first-quarter financial health ranking of area banks had little change from the start of the year, with the best and worst performing institutions each keeping hold of their spot.

From the perfect five star rating at Gateway Bank of Sarasota to the goose egg handed to Bank of Commerce in Sarasota, the second quarter star rating report released by Bauer Financial Wednesday highlighted the industry’s ongoing struggles from the housing bust and what newcomers have done to avoid those mistakes.

Bauer’s ratings are assigned on a scale of zero-to-five stars and are based on the current overall financial picture of the bank or credit union.

Despite lingering financial turmoil, the report shows most of the financial institutions with a heavy presence between Manatee and Sarasota remain viable, with nine of the 10 banks based here earning three stars or higher.

Among banks, Gateway was the top performer with a perfect five-star rating.

Insignia Bank of Sarasota notched three and a half stars, while 1st Manatee Bank in Parrish, C1 Bank of Lakewood Ranch, First America Bank of Bradenton, Sabal Palm Bank in Sarasota each recorded three stars.

The Bank of Commerce in Sarasota was given zero stars. The bank's holding company has a negative net worth of $2.9 million and the lender is aggressively trying to raise capital through a stock offering of 15 million shares at a $1 a piece.

The Bank of Commerce lost $8.12 million last year largely due to the under-performing loans issued during the housing boom, when property values were about 60 percent above that of today.

All of the local bank scores in the Bauer report were the same as the first quarter.

For credit unions, Sarasota Municipal Employees Credit Union had a perfect five stars. Manatee Community Federal had four stars, as did West Coast Federal Employee Credit Union in Sarasota.

For more on this story check later for updates or pick up tomorrow’s copy of the Bradenton Herald.

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman