Shares of Bank of New York Co. rose from their slumber on Wednesday, surging $2.125.

The wake-up call came from PaineWebber Inc.'s Lawrence W. Cohn, whose prediction of stronger-than-expected earnings for the bank apparently set off a buying spree.

In addition, analysts said the bank recently made a splash in the moribund lending area with news of several large loans to the cable television industry.

It is a lead bank on loans to finance the breakup of the cable television operations of Storer Communications Inc., Miami.

Said Felice M. Gelman of Dillon, Read & Co.: "They're in the middle of the fray doing business - and the lending business. Imagine that."

The stock, which has slumped in recent weeks along with the rest of the bank-stock market, rose 5% to $44 Wednesday to set a 52-week high.

The stock was the top gainer among the major bank equities on Wednesday, a relatively rare position for a New York institution. Most bank stocks were up on the day, but not by the same magnitude as Bank of New York. BankAmerica Corp. rose $1, to $43.25, and PNC Financial Corp. gained $1.125, to reach $50.625.

In an interview, Mr. Cohn said the bank may earn up to $ 1.10 a share in the third quarter, 10% more than his earlier estimate.

Other investors, lured by the activity in the stock, joined the action, pushing the stock further, several analysts said.

"Asset quality is improving, margins are strong, and fee income is quite good" at Bank of New York, Mr. Cohn said. "It's making excellent progress on quite a number of fronts."

Mr. Cohn thinks the company can earn $6.50 per share in 1994, or 62.5% more than the $4 he expects this year. He believes the stock could move to $60 to $65 per share within 12 to 18 months, a 50% gain from current levels.

"The stock has been cheap," Ms. Gelman said.

Bank of New York shares sell at 115% of book value, while First Fidelity Bancorp., a super-regional in neighboring New Jersey, goes for 133% of book.

Good News

Ms. Gelman has estimated earnings of $1 per share for the third quarter and also thinks the bank could exceed that mark.

Ms. Gelman noted there has been good news for Bank of New York besides the new cable loans.

On the card front, the bank recently renewed its affinity-card agreement with the AFL-CIO. The bank has the exclusive right to solicit union members for affinity cards.

Ms. Gelman said results of Bank of New York's latest solicitation effort under the AFL-CIO contract, which commenced in August, have met or exceeded the 9% to 10% response rate considered successful for such programs.

The bank's "consumer edge" card, which features a lower interest rate than that of some competitors, has also been successful in the New York metropolitan market.

Other Busy Businesses

Activity has been brisk as well in securities processing, a leadership area for the bank. Trade finance and trade services have also been active areas for the bank this year.

Ms. Gelman and other analysts have also noted that Bank of New York probably will have several low-cost expansion opportunities in its market because several ailing thrift institutions in the New York area are fast approaching the point of government resolution.

In particular, the $3.5 billion-asset Howard Savings Bank, Livington, N.J., said it was unable to meet a regulatory mandate to raise its leverage capital ratio to 4% by Sept. 30.

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