Magazine article American Banker

Bank One, Zions Shares Too Pricey, Fox-Pitt Says

Magazine article American Banker

Bank One, Zions Shares Too Pricey, Fox-Pitt Says

Article excerpt

Shares of Bank One Corp., which has put together a fairly strong performance in recent weeks, have advanced too far for the taste of at least one Wall Street analyst.

Denis Laplante, the head of U.S. bank research at Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc., the broker-dealer arm of Swiss Re, lowered his investment ratings for both Bank One and Zions Bancorp. to "attractive" from "buy" Thursday, after their shares traded close to his target prices of $40 and $54.

Characterizing Bank One as a "turnaround story with a respected management team," Mr. Laplante had upgraded the stock to "buy" on Sept. 24. Since then, like other superregional banking companies, it has risen 28.54%.

The company recently shed two "sell" ratings: Sean J. Ryan of Fulcrum Global Partners LLC upgraded the stock to "buy" on Sept. 20, and Andrew Collins of U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray upgraded it to "neutral" on Oct. 17. However, Michael L. Mayo of Prudential Securities Inc. has maintained his "sell" rating.

Bank One's stock continued its rise on Thursday, when it rose 0.56% to close at $35.99. Zions fell 1.15%, to $49.17. The American Banker index of 225 banks rose 0.58%.

Meanwhile, thrift stocks were trading lower after several analysts issued comments that included guarded outlooks on the group.

Bradley G. Ball of Prudential initiated coverage for five mortgage originators. He rates the sector "market perform," but put a "hold" on Golden West Financial Corp. of Oakland, Calif., Golden State Bancorp of San Francisco, Washington Mutual of Seattle, and North Fork Bancorp of Melville, N. …

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