Bank stock prices continued to wilt under the heat of negative analysts' reports on Thursday, despite gains in broader indexes.
Shawmut National Corp. was lowered to "under-perform" from "neutral" by Stephen Berman of NatWest Securities, who cited the company's exposure to interest rates and the impact on earnings of recent acquisitions. Shawmut's stock was off $1.25 to $21.75.
After lowering his rating on Fleet Financial Corp., in Providence, R.I., earlier in the week, Oppenheimer & Co.'s Chris Kotowski turned his sights on the Midwest, downgrading First Chicago Corp. to "market performer" from "buy." First Chicago's stock slipped $2.25 to $50.75.
About As Far As They Can Go
"Analysts are sending the signal that, at least for the time being, some of the stocks have run pretty far and have reached their price objective," Mr. Berman said. Most of the big losers yesterday have been the group's best performers.
NationsBank Corp. was off $1.125 to $54.25. Fleet, which fell 1.875 on Mr. Kotowski's downgrade on Wednesday, slipped another 87.5 cents to $38.25.
And First Interstate Bancorp, which has lost more than 8% of its value in the last month after having rallied on merger speculation, fell 37.5 cents to $77.875.
Banc One, Wells Fargo Slip
Banc One was down 87.5 cents to close at $36.625. Wells Fargo was off $2.25 to close at $155.50.
Carole Berger of Salomon Brothers attributed the slump to profit taking. With commodity prices rising, indicating possible inflation, investors are cashing in on the recent stock surge, she said.
But Frank R. DeSantis with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette disagreed, said a rise in the last few days in the Commodity Research Bureau index is bad news for banks.
Mr. DeSantis questioned the sustainability of banks' current high net interest margins, and said banks' earnings estimates for 1994 may be overly optimistic.
Below-Market Average Seen
"From here it will be a much more selective, market," he said. Very few banks will outperform the market, and the median will underperform, he said.
Not everyone is persuaded, however, that the bank buying binge is over. Goldman Sachs & Co.'s Robert B. Alberston said that banks have performed well over the past four months as rates have risen, debunking the myth that banks are vulnerable to rates.
Like Ms. Berger, he attributed the recent action to profit taking.
Mr. Kotowski, who was not available for comment, said in his reports that Fleet and First Chicago had reached his target prices.
Others Downgraded, Too
Lawrence W. Cohn of Paine-Webber Inc. had downgraded Chase Manhattan Bank Tuesday to "hold" for nearing his $44 target price.
Dennis Shea of Morgan Stanley cut Sun Trust Banks Inc. to a "hold" because it had reached his $50 target price.
The Dow rose 20.93 points Thursday to close at 3818.92.