After a year of strong earnings, Southwest Bancorporation of Texas did not expect its stock price to plummet.

But that is exactly what happened in January when rumors surfaced on the Internet that the Houston-based banking company was mulling a $30 million chargeoff of lending to a borrower in the troubled Texas petroleum business. As it turned out, Southwest took no such chargeoff it says it did not even have $30 million of troubled Texas oil loans. And it shortly announced that earnings had improved almost 34% in 1998.

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