It comes as little shock that the health of Florida banks continued to deteriorate in the third quarter of 2008, according to data just compiled by Bauer Financial Inc.
Weaker Florida banks rose to 52 in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 from 35 in the second quarter. The good news? Few banks based in the immediate Tampa Bay metro area are seriously struggling. The bad news? Lots of coastal banks — especially from Bradenton south to Naples — that got caught in the worst of the speculative real estate boom are listed among Florida's troubled bank performers.
Bauer rates banks by "stars" — zero through 5. A five-star bank is very healthy, a three-star bank is okay and two stars or fewer indicate trouble. A zero-star bank is in deep distress.
Florida had 11 zero-star banks as of the end of the third quarter, up from seven in the previous quarter. The closest ones to the Tampa Bay market are in Sarasota and Ocala.
In the third quarter, one-star banks — in trouble but not as serious as the zero-stars — rose to six across Florida from two. None are based in the immediate Tampa Bay metro area.
Thirty-five banks were designated two-star — weaker than they should be — up from 26. There are three two-star banks in this area: First Commercial Bank of Tampa Bay, Tampa; Old Harbor Bank, Clearwater; and Synovus Bank of Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg.
And what of the top performers, the five-star institutions in the state that have stayed out of trouble in difficult times? Five-star banks dwindled to 26 in the third quarter, from 40 in the second quarter and 71 in the first.
Tampa's Bay Gulf Credit Union is the state's only federally insured, one-star credit union. There are two two-star credit unions: Florida Episcopal FCU in Orlando and Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union in Tampa which, with more than $6-billion in assets, is the state's largest credit union.