Gruntal & Co. raised its price target on BankAmerica Corp. Thursday, noting renewed confidence in banks after the consumer credit quality scare earlier this year.

"The more I talk to investors, the more I hear how banks are just looked at as a great investment," said Katrina Blecher, analyst at the firm.

Ms. Blecher raised her target price on BankAmerica stock to $90 per share, after it rose past her previous target of $82.

BankAmerica shares gained tktk to $

Ms. Blecher said investors have expressed concern that the record number of consumer bankruptcy filings this year might damage banks, but so far such fears have proved unfounded.

"The banks aren't worried about it, regulators in Washington aren't worried, and so slowly we are seeing people getting back to bank stocks," she said.

Elsewhere, Bank of New York Co. rose tktk to a 52-week high of tktkin active trading. The stock has been rising since Aug. 5 when Morgan Stanley analyst Dennis Shea raised his target price to $34 per share.

The analyst forecast strong growth for Bank of New York's U.S. government securities processing business. "This is a unique bank in a unique situation," he said.

Shares of Fidelity Financial Bancshares, a Richmond, Va., thrift, surged $7.125, to $23, on news that it was being bought by Southern National Corp. for $31.25 a share. The $59.4 million price tag is twice the thrift's book value.

"It's a good thrift, and it has good locations, but it's a very high price to pay," said Chip Wittman of Wheat First Butcher Singer.

Southern National shares rose/fell tk to tk.

Analyst Raymond Cabillot of Piper Jaffray Inc. increased his 1996 earnings estimate for America First Financial Fund to $3.11 per share, from $2.85.

American First's earnings "have been nicely up year after year," Mr. Cabillot said of the company, which owns EurekaBank in Foster City, Calif.

He pointed to the thrift's improving margins, its continued strong credit quality, and its progress in cutting expenses.

The thrift has $2.3 billion of assets and increased its net income to $17.2 million in 1995 from 1994's $15.2 million.

Mr. Elstein is a freelance writer based in New York.

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