Analysts expect Chemical Banking Corp. to provide longawaited details soon of a costcutting plan that could save $300 million through 1996.

The money center has scheduled a Dec. I analyst meeting in which it is widely expected to quantify its expense-reduction efforts.

The bank has been plagued by criticisms of rising expenses, and like other industry giants this year began to cut some of the fat.

Nonetheless, Chemical's returnon-equity ratio for the third quarter was between 13% and 14%, below the 15% median of its money center peers, said Frank DeSantis of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

And C.J. Lawrence analyst Joel Silverstein estimated Chemical's 1994 annual ROE would be only 12.2%

The bank confirmed that it planned to discuss expense reductions, among other items, at the December meeting, but refused to comment on details. By the bank's calculations, its ROE was greater than 16% for the third quarter.

While revenues have grown rapidly since Chemical's megamerger with Manufacturers Hanover two years ago, expenses have risen higher than expected.

Wall Street has unfairly punished the bank's stock price. choosing to ignore the higher revenues and focus on the rising expenses, Mr. DeSantis said.

"The trouble is they don't have a lot of credibility," said one analyst of Chemical. It will take years of execution before the bank receives credit from Wall Street, the analyst said.

At the close of trading Thursday, Chemical shares were up 62.5 cents at S37.125.

Chemical earlier this year outlined a four-part expense reduction program, encompassing outsourcing, staffing, corporate initiatives and gains at Texas Commerce Bancshares, Chemical's wholly owned Texas subsidiary.

This past quarter Chemical's chief financial officer, Peter Tobin. emphasized the need to rationalize expenses in order to free revenue for prospective business lines, said Mr. DeSantis.

Mr. DeSantis predicted that Chemical would achieve $170 million of saving just by consolidating outsourcing functions. Chemical spends $2 billion a year on these services.

Mr. DeSantis estimated that expense reductions through 1996 could top $300 million.

Chemical is hardly alone among major banks in needing to trim the fat. Across the country in San Francisco, BankAmerica Corp. faces a similar plight, but thus far has not indicated it would undertake an aggressive cost-cutting program.

BankAmerica's return on equity in the third quarter was 13%, compared to 26% for Wells Fargo & Co., and 20% for First Interstate Bancorp, excluding restructuring charges, according to Mr. Silverstein of C.J. Lawrence.

Like Chemical, BankAmerica is still digesting a megamerger -- with Security Pacific Corp.

BankAmerica "claims that the integration of Security Pacific is over," said Scott Edgar, an analyst with SIFE Trust Fund, which owns 250,000 BankAmerica shares. "But there is still more integration of that transaction to take care of."

BankAmerica officials have argued its ROE is low because its portfolio has been restructured to emphasize low risk assets. That may be true, but it is also probably true expenses are too high, said Lawrence Vitale of Bear Stearns & Co. The thing missing from BOA is a significant cost-cutting program, he added.

Mr. Vitale cautioned against comparing the ROE figure for First Interstate and BankAmerica, because Interstate did not take a loan loss provision in the third quarter.

BankAmerica finished the day up $1, at $43.50. First Interstate finished up 62.5 cents at $78.75, and Wells Fargo rose 12.5 cents to $144.375.

First Commerce Corp., New Orleans, fell 50 cents to $25.75 after announcing restructuring charges from pending acquisitions.

Fourth Financial Corp., Wichita, Kan., fell $1.25 to close at $30.25.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 8.75 points at 3845.88.

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