Bank of New York Inc.'s emphasis on fee-based income is winning more support from Wall Street.
The company earned its latest upgrade late Monday from Advest Group Inc.'s Anthony J. Polini, who lifted his rating to "buy" from "market perform." Bank of New York's share price has slipped from a July 21 peak of $50, but Most analysts say it could shoot past that high in the not-too-distant future. On Tuesday, it closed at $47.0625, up 25 cents, or 0.53%.
On July 17 the company reported second-quarter net income of $356 million, or 48 cents per share, up from $323 million, or 42 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The results included a 33% jump in fees on equity and debt transactions, to $403 million. Fees on asset management jumped 21%, to $72 million.
Michael L. Mayo, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, upgraded his rating to "buy" from "hold" on July 21 because of Bank of New York's stable credit quality and strong fundamentals. Analysts at Credit Suisse said the company's shares are currently underestimated and have set a 12-month-target of $ 57.
The upgrade was notable from a firm that is generally pessimistic about bank stocks. David Trone of Credit Suisse said that the "buy" rating reflects "a recognition that these companies" - Credit Suisse also upgraded Mellon Bank Corp. - "are exceptions" among the top 60 banks. Mr. Trone said he is still concerned with asset quality, efficiency, market revenue, and poor earnings from most large banks.
Bank of New York is also one of few financial institutions with UBS Warburg's top rating of "strong buy."
"The management kept a clear focus" on fee processing and "will continue to do so in the future," said Robert S. Patten, an analyst at UBS Warburg. "The stock has potential to go up," even amid a "flight from financial shares."
Diane Glossman, an analyst who covers Bank of New York for UBS, has set a target of $55.
John B. Wimsatt, an analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co., said the stock "has to be watched." He has been researching Bank of New York since the spring and will introduce his initial rating in a few days, he said.
"Bank of New York had the strongest quarter of any bank," Mr. Wimsatt said. He was impressed with the favorable earnings mix and the company's shift away from traditional banking, though some work remains to be done to shift activities even more towards processing and trust, he said.
One skeptic is Lawrence W. Cohn of Ryan, Beck Southeast Research, who is sticking to "hold" because he thinks the stock is too expensive. He lowered his rating from "buy" in December when the price reached the low 40s.
Mr. Cohn said that investors are buying shares of processing and trust-based banks as a shelter for when the market turns bad, and that has sent their shares above their usual multiples.
Bank of New York's earnings this quarter "were better than we thought they would be," Mr. Cohn said.
"They came in a penny above my expectation. That is not the kind of company that gets me excited."
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