NEW YORK - Bank stocks rebounded Tuesday following a favorable inflation report, but analysts think the rally will be short-lived.
The American Banker stock index climbed 0.6%, after failing 3.4% in the previous week and almost 9% in a month.
Among the biggest gainers were Banc One Corp., whose battered shares jumped $1.375 to $37.125. The Ohio-based company's stock was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" by Smith Barney Shearson.
Other winners included Bankers Trust New York Corp., up $1 to $76.25. and Bank of New York, which rose 75 cents to $55.
Further Decline Seen
Analysts and money managers said Tuesday that, the one-day rally notwithstanding, bank stocks are likely to resume their downturn.
"There's a lot of selling pressure on these stocks," said Dennis Shea, an analyst with Morgan Stanley & Co. "You won't get a sustained rally until the investors that don't want to be in the group get out."
Banks stocks have been selling off since early October, after the release of third-quarter earnings and Morgan Guaranty Trust Co.'s decision to cut its prime rate by a half point, to 5.5%.
The selling pressure abated Tuesday after the Commerce Department reported that the core producer price index, a measure of inflation, fell 0.2% in October. Economists had expected an increase of about that size.
With inflation fears quiet, the bond market rallied. The yield on the 30-year bond dropped to 6.15% at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average was off 7.83 points, to 3640.07. Stocks of companies whose earnings are tied to interest rates - such as banks and brokerages - rose. Just last week, a rise in longterm interest rates sent those stocks plunging.
Some of the biggest gainers among bank stocks on Tuesday have been the most battered this quarter. Banc One's shares were off 11% between Sept. 30 and Monday. First Interstate's shares, which had fallen 16% in four weeks, rose $1.25 to $57.625 Tuesday.
Some Bargains Seen
The prolonged selloff in bank stocks has created some buying opportunities, said analysts.
Henry C. Dickson, the Smith Barney Shearson analyst, said he upgraded Banc One's stock part-because its price has fallen so far. The shares now sell at 9.7 times his 1994 earnings estimate and 1.9 times book value. He thinks that is cheap for a bank expected to show the same 12.5% compound earnings growth it has posted for a decade.
"This is a company that has risen to the challenge time after time and delivered," said Mr. Dickson.
Other analysts believe that bank stocks as a group are less desirable.
Anthony Davis, an analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., recommended Tuesday that clients reduce their holdings of bank stocks.
He recommends that this group be underweighted in any portfolio. He calculates that the portion of bank stocks in institutional equity portfolios is 7%, compared with a weighting of about 4.5% in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. That could mean that the selloff in bank stocks is far from over.
Less than Ideal Conditions
Dean Witter forecasts that the economy will grow 4% next year, and that the yield on the long bond will rise to 6.75%, while the rate on 90-day bills will jump underperformed in the past when the economy and interest rates have firmed.
"That's not the kind of milieu that these stocks have done well in in the past." said Mr. Davis.
The year-over-year earnings gains are becoming smaller, too, down from 31% in 1992 to 16% next year, Mr. Davis said. And return on equity has peaked, he said.
"The issue is, how do you positively surprise people at these levels of profits," he said.
Many investors look for the momemtum in earnings gains; when that begins to slow, they seek other sectors.