First Chicago NBD Corp.'s stock rating was lowered Thursday by two analysts who said the shares were due to cool off after surging 19% in a month.
Analyst James P. Benson of Ryan Beck & Co. reduced his rating on the midwestern giant to "buy" from "strong buy," telling brokers in a morning conference call that "First Chicago has had a good year this month." Joseph Duwan of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. followed suit, cutting First Chicago's stock rating to "accumulate" from "buy" and noting the stock was approaching Keefe's target price of $62.
As trading opened, First Chicago shares were up $8.75 from a month earlier, to $54.75. In daily trading, the shares slipped to $54.375 during a generally weak session for bank shares.
Mr. Benson emphasized that he remains bullish on First Chicago's business prospects. He stuck to his earnings estimates of $4.40 per share for 1996 and $5.20 per share for next year.
He acknowledged that asset quality in the bank's credit card portfolio has been an issue with investors since June, when the bank reported a spike in chargeoffs, but asserted that chargeoffs have "come down appreciably" on a monthly basis since then.
A $12 million loss on trading in the third quarter actually is "good news" for First Chicago investors, Mr. Benson said. The bank's third- quarter earnings were up slightly "without benefit of trading numbers," Mr. Benson said. "If the bank was able to overcome that obstacle and still report a good quarter, I think it will get the trading operation straightened out and that will aid future profitability."
Mr. Duwan, too, maintained his earnings estimates for First Chicago - $4.30 a share this year and $4.90 in 1997.
The rating reductions by the banking specialty firms came on the heels of a downgrading of First Chicago Wednesday by Judah Kraushaar of Merrill Lynch & Co. The Merrill analyst also cited price as a major factor in his action.
Mr. Kraushaar, who reduced his long-term opinion of the stock to "accumulate" from "buy," also cut his earnings estimates to $4.35 a share from $4.40 a share for 1996 and to $4.90 a share from $5.05 for next year.
Mr. Kraushaar said the peak in credit card losses is "not yet in sight" for the bank and that "a significant reduction" in credit card revenues lies ahead for First Chicago.
The S&P bank index fell 0.18% for the day, as many of the largest banks in market capitalization gave back some of the gains they had scored in the days leading up to the election.