Magazine article American Banker

Recovering Whitney Increases Its Dividend for Second Time in '93

Magazine article American Banker

Recovering Whitney Increases Its Dividend for Second Time in '93

Article excerpt

Whitney Holding Corp., whose stock has made impressive gains recently., raised its dividend for the second time this year.

Whitney shares were up 75 cents to $37 in late trading on Thursday after the New Orleans-based company said it will increase its quarterly payout to 20 cents per share from 15 cents.

The dividend was restored in January after a two-year omission while the bank dealt with huge losses stemming from a deep and protracted recession in Louisiana.

The stock has advanced 26% so far in the third quarter, making it one of the best performing bank issues. And it is ahead 51% this year on top of the 50% appreciation the stock registered in 1992.

"They're enjoying an excellent year, heading toward $4 [a share] in operating earnings," said Peter W. Tuz, analyst at Morgan Keegan & Co., Memphis. "I expect to see faster than average dividend growth at Whitney as they bring the payout ratio back into the 30% [of earnings] range over the next few years," he said.

Increase |No Surprise'

"A recovery can get momentum very quickly once everything is in place," said Henry J. Coffey Jr., bank analyst at J.C. Bradford & Co., Nashville. Thus, he said, the second dividend increase was "no surprise."

Interest in Whitney was whetted last month when Premier Bancorp of Baton Rouge secured a toehold in New Orleans by acquiring Alerion Corp., an Italian-owned private bank.

Banc One's Approval Assumed

On Wall Street, it was quickly assumed the deal had at least the tacit approval of Banc One Corp. …

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