After watching its stock price slide steadily in recent months, Sovereign Bancorp said this week that it intends to repurchase up to 10% of its shares.

Jay Sidhu, president and chief executive officer, said that at its current price, Sovereign's stock is a good investment for the company.

"Our earnings per share in 1998 were up by 19% while the stock price went down by 18%," Mr. Sidhu said, adding that the stock is trading at less than 1.5 times book value.

At midday Thursday, Sovereign's stock was trading at $12.25, up more than 5%. That is well below Sovereign's 52-week high of $22.75, however.

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