Best known for its natural beauty — with a plethora of spectacular National Parks, from Arches to Zion — Utah also is home to a strictly man-made treasure. And it’s another Zion — Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ:ZION).
Headquartered in Utah’s capital of Salt Lake City, Zions is one of America’s key regional banks. These are the institutions that tend to garner far fewer headlines their big money-center brothers, like Citigroup (NYSE:C) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), but that consumers and businesses in their regions might be far more familiar with in terms of actually doing business with them.
Zions got its start not long after Utah did in the mid-1800s; it was founded in 1873 as Zions Savings Bank in Salt Lake City.
According the bank’s latest report, total assets came to $52.9 billion, and it had 10,300 employees in its operations across 10 Western and Southwestern states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Zions ranks in the top 10 in market share in all those states, except California, where it’s No. 14. But even there, Zions has just more than $9 billion in deposits, second only to its home state of Utah, where it has $11.1 billion in deposits.
From its humble beginnings as a frontier savings bank, Zions has grown into a nationally recognized financial institution, priding itself as “a national leader in Small Business Administration lending and public finance advisory services.” ZION shares are included in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Financial 100 indices.
ZION stock performed well in the first half of 2012, and the company is worth about $3.5 billion as measured by market cap. Plus, analysts expect strong earnings growth compared to last year.
So, for investors who think of Utah only as a place to ski or hike or mountain bike (or down a fresh Scorpion Pale Ale at the Moab Brewery), Zions offers a tempting banking investment as well.
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Mike Mercurio is Managing Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.