An early and passionate backer of H.F. Ahmanson & Co.'s hostile bid for Great Western Financial Corp. is switching sides.

In a biting critique, analyst Jonathan E. Gray of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. concluded that Ahmanson's natural advantage as a local bidder, able to save money by cutting redundant branches and product lines, is offset by its "suboptimal" strategy of shrinking its mortgage business.

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