Bucking the recent negative atmosphere surrounding money-centers, shares of Citicorp rose 62.5 cents, to $130.375, as Credit Suisse First Boston initiated coverage with a "buy" recommendation.
"There is no other franchise like it," said analyst Michael Mayo of the New York money-center. "Citicorp is becoming the only truly global retail bank, giving it unique long-term competitive positioning."
Indeed, fears spawned by the Asian financial crisis are obscuring steps by Citicorp to establish broad consumer operations overseas, said Mr. Mayo and Bradley Ball in a report issued Monday. The banking company aims to "expand retail products into countries that have never seen retail banking before."
Still, Citicorp did not earn the "strong buy" recommendation the analysts had placed on Chase Manhattan Corp. and Bankers Trust. But Citicorp was graded a notch higher than the "hold" ratings on BankAmerica and J.P. Morgan & Co.
Citicorp "is not a risk-free investment," said Mr. Ball, but its share price has recently come down a bit while the longer-term growth outlook is good.
Overall, the Credit Suisse analysts remain bullish on the banking industry. "The bank investment world hasn't changed just because the calendar year has," emphasized Mr. Mayo.
Shares of several other large banks rose Monday, including Chase Manhattan, up $1.8125, to $112.4375, and J.P. Morgan, which rose $4, to $116.
But not all fared as well. Wells Fargo & Co. was down $2.125, to $335.75, continuing a drop that began last week after shares reached a 12- month high of $339.4374. "It looks like profit taking" on the run-up, said Joel W. Silverstein of Prudential Securities.
Wells Fargo has been adding fans lately, following management's outlining of growth plans. Money manager Julius Westheimer of Ferris Baker Watts touted Wells Fargo during last weekend's widely watched "Wall Street Week" television program. Mr. Westheimer also named among his top picks Freddie Mac, which rose 75 cents, to $43.5625, on Monday.
During the same show, money manager Laszlo Birinyi recommended shares of Mellon Bank Corp., which rose $1.875, to $62.125.
Overall, stocks were mixed on Monday. The market rose 70 points by mid- morning, reacting to positive remarks by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan to a national economic association.
But an ongoing rally in bonds later drained some support from stocks, which were also dampened by lingering concerns about overseas markets after steep drops by Asian stock indexes.
The Dow finished the day up 0.17%, while the Standard & Poor's bank index rose 0.61%. The Nasdaq bank index gained 0.03%, and the S&P 500 was up 0.21%.
Shares of First Financial Bancorp had a rocky day, with shares off as much as $1.50 before finishing the day up 12.5 cents, to $50.
The $2.6 billion-asset Ohio banking company is preparing to purchase Union State Bank in a deal worth $13.6 million.
First Financial "is traditionally very good, very disciplined about integrating acquisitions," said Daniel Cardenes, money manager with Howe Barnes Investment, Chicago.