Shares of Business First Bancshares /zigman2/quotes/209823183/composite BFST -0.34% rose 2.5% in premarket trades Monday after Raymond James upgraded the stock by two notches, to strong buy from market perform, on the heels of the lender's third-quarter results. Analyst William J. Wallace IV set a price target of $33 and cited the bank's net interest income and loan growth of 8%. "We were pleased to see core trends continue to improve at the bank, and as loan growth looks to be more than just pent-up demand, we are increasing our core growth expectations," Wallace said. "We expect Business First will continue to generate above-peer growth and anticipate continued improvement of profitability levels as the bank unlocks further benefits of scale and continues to diversify its loan portfolio into the attractive growth markets of Dallas and Houston." Business First Bancshares are up 27.5% this year, compared to a rise of 21% by the S&P 500.