Anchor Financial Corp., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and North County Bancorp, Escondido, Calif., are the latest community banks to switch their stock listings to a major national exchange.
Anchor Financial saw an immediate gain from the move; its stock price jumped nearly 30% this week, to $27.50 a share, a record.
Both bank companies began listing their shares this week on the Nasdaq National Market, scrapping their reliance on over-the-counter trading.
"We wanted to increase the visibility of the stock and the liquidity in it," said Tommy E. Looper, chief financial officer of $470 million-asset Anchor. "This makes our quotes a lot more accessible."
The banks are in good company. About a dozen small banks have switched since December from the bulletin boards or pink sheets to the higher- profile Nasdaq - either its small capitalization or national market divisions - or the American Stock Exchange.
In June alone, four bank companies jumped to Nasdaq, the second-largest stock market in the world.
Mr. Looper attributed the price run-up to recent strong quarterly earnings - a 40% increase, to $1.2 million, in the second quarter - favorable press, and a lack of stock available to satisfy buying demand.
"Most of our shareholders tend to hold stock rather than trade it," he said. Anchor's 2.6 million shares are held by about 1,800 investors.
The $250 million-asset North County, which has eight offices mostly in the San Diego area, also produced stellar earnings recently - a nearly 150% increase in the second quarter, to $667,000.
The new listing will "give brokers and interested investors immediate access to the best bid and ask prices as well as additional information about the company's shares," said Rod Jones, the bank's president, in a release.
Anchor officials said increased liquidity is not only attractive to its shareholders but also benefits its merger aspirations. Anchor stock will appeal much more now to stockholders of potential targets.
Anchor Financial is listed under a new symbol, AFSC; North County, under NCBH. Anchor has traded on Nasdaq before, in the late-1980s, but it was less than half its current size then and had few market makers.