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Comerica takeover or new CEO would add most value for shareholders, expert says

Mayo: Takeover remains the best outcome for Comerica

It's time for a new CEO at Comerica, according to Mike Mayo, managing director of CLSA.

Although the bank's stock has gained more than 12 percent this year, it remains "suboptimized," Mayo said Tuesday. The year-to-date outperformance of Comerica shares is a reflection of shareholder efforts to "encourage change" at the company, he said on CNBC's "Halftime Report."

Mayo said it is a "decent franchise," and shareholders have three options to achieve better optimization.

Mayo said Comerica's previously announced restructuring program, known as "GEAR Up," would add about $3 per share. This led CLSA to upgrade the stock to outperform and raise its price target on the stock to $53 from $50.

Mayo said, however, that a takeover or new CEO could add even more value, approximately $12 to $22 per share or $7 per share, respectively.

In a note to clients, Mayo said: "CEOs should be kept around a long time if they perform well, and not if they don't — just like any other employee at their companies."

He pointed out that only five large banks have CEOs who have been in their roles for more than 10 years, including Comerica's Ralph W. Babb Jr.

Mayo said the four others have seen eyepopping returns under their tenure:

According to Mayo, the long-term underperformance of Comerica shares is "the end result of poor execution."

Comerica told CNBC on Tuesday that it "remains focused on executing its transformational enterprise-wide initiatives and meeting the financial targets outlined in the GEAR Up program."

"We believe we are well-positioned to drive enhanced shareholder value as we continue to provide high-quality financial services and build lasting client relationships. Over the past six-month period, our stock price has increased by approximately 22 percent and is up over 11 percent year-to-date," the company said in a statement.

The stock hit a new 52-week intraday high at $47.70 in early trading Tuesday, but then reversed course to trade more than 1 percent lower.

— CNBC's Pippa Stevens contributed to this report.