Bank of New York Co. said Tuesday that it is sticking to its earnings targets despite weak market conditions, but its stock fell nonetheless.

At a morning conference in New York, chief executive officer Thomas A. Renyi reiterated his company's earnings-per-share growth targets - 12% to 14% by 2004. He also said it would exceed 25% return on equity and get 2% return on assets and an efficiency ratio of 48% by 2004. It first announced these goals at its annual meeting with analysts in early December. But the economic outlook has clouded since, and analysts have questioned whether "processing" banks such as Bank of New York can sustain their double-digit earnings growth.

Without much news to move on, Bank of New York's share price fell 3% Tuesday. Though its stock moved with other processing banks, as it typically does, Bank of New York's fall was steeper than its peers'. Mellon Financial Corp. was unchanged, State Street Corp. fell 0.65%, Northern Trust Corp. rose 1.2%, and PNC Financial fell 1.3%.

The American Banker index of 225 bank stocks rose 0.2%. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.7%, and the Nasdaq composite 0.5%.

A Bank of New York spokesman had no comment on the drop, and several analysts were at a loss to explain it. But a few, who asked not to be named, attributed it to a research note published Tuesday by Prudential Securities analyst Michael Mayo, who reiterated his "sell" rating on the stock.

Mr. Renyi's morning presentation at the UBS Warburg conference contained nothing new or negative, but Mr. Mayo's note, released soon afterward, raised issues that could have caused the stock to slip.

The analyst wrote that Bank of New York continues to focus on providing back-office services for global capital markets, a business that "does not seem as strong as it has been."

He went on to say that the banking company's management hedged its earnings guidance by saying that its targets depend on global market conditions' maintaining their current slackened pace. Other analysts pointed out that Bank of New York initially said this in its first-quarter earnings report.

Mr. Mayo further wrote that "management said that it expects internal growth in securities-processing businesses to decelerate from 19% growth in 2000" to about 16% this year." This, too, is something Bank of New York has made known, the analysts said.

And finally, Mr. Mayo wrote that "the firm remains subject to an enforcement action with regulators stemming from lack of proper risk management." While he did not say what case that referred to, the analysts said they believed he meant the Russian money-laundering scandal that erupted in summer 1999.

Mr. Mayo did not return calls by press time.

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