The 3 Biggest Winners in Finance This Week

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The weekend is here -- time to look back at three companies in the financial sector that have seen impressive gains in their stock price this week. One of them could be poised for even more growth ahead.

St. Joe
St. Joe, a real estate development firm that also is northwest Florida's largest private landowner, had a rather eventful day Thursday, as it announced that it will sell almost 383,000 acres of land for $565 million. This news sent the stock soaring, and it was up almost 16% on the announcement. Of the sale, St. Joe CEO Park Brady noted that "the proceeds from the sale will provide the company with significant liquidity and numerous opportunities to create long-term value for our shareholders."

But then after the market closed on Thursday, it announced its third-quarter earnings release, which saw earnings per share dip from $0.17 to $0.05 from the third quarter of 2012. Last year's Q3 results, however, included two rural land sales valued at $18.3 million, which added to the strong results. The company did see improvement in its resorts, leisure, and leasing operations, which saw revenue climb by 15%, and its residential sales revenue increase by approximately 10% to $10.7 million.

Following the announcement, St. Joe saw its stock rise in early morning trading but then steadily decline as Friday progressed. Even with the 5% drop on the day, the stock was still up almost 7% on the week.

ING U.S., an insurer, is in a slow rebranding effort after being divested by its Netherlands-based parent company in May. The company reported its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday and delivered strong results, as its total operating earnings grew by 61% and its operating earnings per share were up 41%.

As a result of the strong performance, the stock gained 8.5% on the day of the announcement. Investors were also probably pleased with CEO Rodney Martin's comment that although ING U.S. had a solid 9.9% return on equity in the third quarter, the company is "committed to delivering on our goal of improving our ongoing business adjusted operating ROE, on average, by 110 basis points a year to achieve our target of 12%-13% by 2016." In total, the stock was up almost 11% on the week.

BofI Holding
After watching its stock fall almost 15% over the two weeks before this one, BofI Holding, the parent company of Bank of Internet, had the best week of all the banks following its knockout third-quarter earnings. The company reported that its net income was up 35.5% and its earnings per share increased by 27%, thanks to strong loan growth. In addition, BofI Holding had its tangible book value increase by 23% and its return on average assets grow from 1.44% to 1.63%.

Investors had been slowly selling off shares of BofI Holding as its valuation crept higher, and certainly fears arose regarding the stock, which has more than doubled this year. However, after another quarter of strong results, seemingly everyone piled back in, as its stock was up more than 13% this week. Considering the stock's relative value is still less than it was a few weeks ago, there may be growth ahead for this bank.

Beyond this week
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The article The 3 Biggest Winners in Finance This Week originally appeared on

Fool contributor Patrick Morris has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of BofI Holding. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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