Magazine article American Banker

Stocks: Continued Slide of M&T Makes Investors Take Notice

Magazine article American Banker

Stocks: Continued Slide of M&T Makes Investors Take Notice

Article excerpt

M&T Bank Corp. shares, which often seem immune to market swings, have fallen substantially in the past month.

Big moves-up or down-are not unusual for Buffalo-based M&T, because it is a thinly traded stock. Its movements don't always track the broader markets. But with shares now 14.1% off their high, some investors have taken notice.

The slide accelerated July 23 when, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, chairman Robert G. Wilmers sold 79,000 of his share. The sale came six days after the stock peaked at $575.25.

Some speculated that Mr. Wilmers' sale suggested that he "knows when all good things must come to an end" and is reducing his position accordingly. But Kevin Timmons, an analyst at First Albany Corp., said Mr. Wilmers needed the cash to buy a vineyard. Mr. Wilmers was unavailable for comment.

Richard Lammert, the general counsel of M&T Bank, dismissed the notion that the sharp selloff was the result of investors' anxiety.

"If you look at the selloff in the company's shares and compare it to other banks, you'll find that it is proportional," said Mr. Lammert, who recently sold some of his M&T shares to fund his daughter's college tuition.

Mr. Timmons cited other possible reasons for a decline in M&T shares. The company's recent acquisition of Onbancorp produced a one-time charge, he said. And the economy in northern New York State where M&T operates is suffering side effects from a decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, Mr. …

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