McDonald & Company Securities analyst Michael Durante has lowered his rating on Mercantile Bancorp. to "underweight" from "hold."

In a research report, Durante said that although the St. Louis company reported fourth-quarter earnings ahead of expectations, it "leaned heavily upon an awfully light loan-loss provision to get there."

Mr. Durante lowered his 1996 earnings estimate to $3.90 from $4.10 in anticipation of sharply higher credit costs.

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