Shares of First Union were up strongly Wednesday on word that the company is preparing to give Wall Street a closer look at its operations.

The stock rose $1.125, to $52, while other bank stocks were falling back.

A spokeswoman said Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union "plans to share more information about our restructuring and the related staff reductions" with analysts.

The information will come this week or early next week, the spokeswoman said.

"The Street is looking for a bit more guidance, and this is seen as a positive," said Frank J. Barkocy, a banking analyst with Josephthal & Co. in New York.

First Union's shares have lagged most other bank stocks since late January, when the company revealed it would not meet profit growth expectations.

Some analysts have asserted that investors will be rewarded if they stick with First Union shares.

"Although patience is justifiably wearing thin, a little more patience with this stock should be rewarded," said David C. Stumpf, a banking analyst with A.G. Edwards & Co. in St. Louis.

Despite the upbeat assessment, Mr. Stumpf lowered his 1999 earnings estimate for First Union to $4.02 per share, from $4.10.

The earnings difficulty will be focused entirely in the first half, he said, with traditional banking revenue and savings from the CoreStates Financial Corp. acquisition running below previous expectations.

Mr. Stumpf sees more strength in the third and fourth quarters as cost- cutting initiatives kick in.

Other analysts also urged patience with First Union.

"While the shares' recent performance has been somewhat rocky, I feel that management is making an effort to get the cost savings that are imperative for success," Mr. Barkocy said. "There is a concerted movement to improve credibility, and this will influence the price performance of shares."

But Mr. Barkocy also acknowledged that if First Union disappoints Wall Street again, "the stock could be dead money for a while."

Not all analysts say they believe the stock will trade much further upward.

"The shares remain cheap for a reason," said analyst Sean J. Ryan of Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York. "There has been a seemingly endless string of disappointments from management."

The assessments of First Union came as other bank shares declined. The Standard & Poor's bank index slipped 1.23% and the Dow Jones industrial average 0.51%. The S&P 500 lost 0.66% and the Nasdaq bank index 0.61%.

Bank stocks "were caught in a sector rotation" Wednesday that favored other industries, Mr. Barkocy said.

"I'm a little perplexed, given the comments of (Federal Reserve Chairman Alan) Greenspan indicating neutrality for rates for the time being," Mr. Barkocy said.

The broader market "is marking a little bit of time and going sideways," said Tony Cecin, head of institutional trading at Piper Jaffrey. "I think fundamental strength will take it up over 10,000."

Meanwhile, banks were "seeing some profit taking after a bit of a run- up," Mr. Cecin said.

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