Magazine article American Banker

Firstar, B of A Shares Slip after Reporting 4Q Results

Magazine article American Banker

Firstar, B of A Shares Slip after Reporting 4Q Results

Article excerpt

Financial stocks were mixed Wednesday. Earnings announcements and economic data dominated trading, and analysts reduced their ratings for two of the companies that reported on Tuesday, Firstar Corp. and Bank of America Corp.

Firstar was downgraded by several analysts. Jon Balkind at Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc. cut the Milwaukee-based company to "attractive" from "buy," Christopher M. Mutasci of Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. to "market perform" from "buy," and Kenneth M. Hemauer at Robert W. Baird & Co. to "market perform" from "market outperform."

Firstar fell 3.27%, to $22.1875 a share.

Lawrence W. Cohn at Ryan, Beck & Co. in Livingston, N.J., reduced his rating for Bank of America to "hold" from "buy." He said that his reasons had less to do with risk than with price.

"At $51, it is still a cheap stock," he said but added that in this economic climate he does not see much upside potential for the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company, which reported per-share earnings of 85 cents for the fourth quarter and $4.72 for last year.

Analysts said that Bank of America's high level of syndicated loans and exposure to the troubled California utility companies could hurt earnings if the economy slows more than expected. Its shares were down 2.7% on Wednesday, to $49.5625, but they have gained 8.96% so far this year.

James R. Bradshaw of D.A. Davidson & Co. in Great Falls, Mont., agreed that right now macroeconomic factors are more important than earnings to Bank of America's stock. …

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