nearly 80% in fiscal 1999, mainly because of losses on investments and the costs associated with defending itself against a lawsuit.

Bank West said in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that earnings dropped to $176,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30, from $830,000 a year earlier. The $207 million-asset thrift said it lost $340,000 on securities investments and spent $384,000 defending itself against a class action that alleges Bank West violated the Truth-in-Lending Act.

The suit, filed on July 17, 1998 in the circuit court of Kent County, Mich., stemmed from claims that Bank West improperly charged residential mortgagees a $250 document preparation fee. The plaintiffs say they should not have been charged.

To halt the securities loss, the thrift liquidated most of its investments, which were in other financial institutions. And Bank West said it is working to resolve the litigation as soon as possible.

At least one analyst said he believes the poor results could increase the pressure on Bank West to find a buyer. Michael Moran at Roney & Co. in Detroit praised the thrift's restructuring work, but said he believes Bank West is a prime acquisition target.

"They're taking all the appropriate steps from the top down and proceeding in a constructive manner to reorganize," said Mr. Moran. "But I don't know if the market will be patient enough to allow them to move forward with this plan by themselves." -- Craig Woker

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