Raymond James analyst William J. Wallace IV (RJA) on Friday upgraded shares of Webster Financial Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207965570/composite WBS +0.77% to strong buy from outperform and increased his price target to $73 from $65. The integration of the bank's $5 billion acquisition of Sterling Bancorp should drive upside after it closes as expected in February, he said. Webster Financial's fourth-quarter core loan growth, excluding PPP loans, came in at 4.3% as "the biggest highlight" from its results. The fourth quarter marked the third consecutive quarter with loan growth above 2.5%. Wallace said the loan growth figures give him increased confidence in management's targeted 8% to 10% adjusted loan growth target. "All in, our thesis remains unchanged, where we believe cost and growth targets from the Sterling deal are attainable, and the financial merits of the deal are being mispriced," he said. Shares of Webster Financial are up 9.8% so far in 2022, compared to a drop of about 6% by the S&P 500.