Bank stocks were mixed Friday, as investors looked for bargains among the battered industry.
Bank of America Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. rose; Chase Manhattan Corp. and Citigroup Inc. fell.
Analysts said the market was still reacting to the shock earlier in the week, when Bank One Corp. said its earnings would fall well short of expectations.
"This has raised credibility issues for the entire industry," said Joseph Duwan, a banking analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "There's a little bit more investor skepticism after that bombshell."
Some analysts also laid some blame on Friday's sluggish market and said they expect renewed activity in the fall.
"It's a time for investors to refocus their portfolios and outlook for the rest of the year," Mr. Duwan said.
The Standard & Poor's bank index dropped 0.63%, and the Nasdaq bank index 0.50% The Dow Jones industrial average shed 0.97%, and the S&P 500 1.01%.
James Schutz, a banking analyst at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Ark., said the remainder of the year should be calmer for bank stocks. "Stocks should do O.K." going into the fall, Mr. Schutz said. "I don't think we'll see the Federal Reserve raising interest rates again."
Shares of Firstar Corp., Milwaukee, rose 25 cents, or 0.90%, to $28.0625, after positive words from Erika L. Hill, a banking analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Seattle. Ms. Hill reiterated her "strong buy" for the shares, saying Firstar's "business outlook continues to be superior" to its peer group.
Integration of the company's Star Banc Corp acquisition is virtually complete, with conversions of Iowa and Minnesota operations having taken place this month and Wisconsin operations scheduled in two weeks, Ms. Hill said.
The company is determining how to achieve cost savings as a result of its purchase of Mercantile Bancorp, St. Louis, Ms. Hill said.
She said Firstar's credit card operation is different from Bank One's. Bank One's earnings problems were attributed to its First USA card division, which has receivables of $70 billion and depends largely on direct mail in its marketing efforts.
Firstar has a small credit card operation, with about $1.2 billion of receivables, and its marketing is done primarily through Firstar's branch network, Ms. Hill said.
Attrition rates in Firstar's card portfolio "are stable and have not materially changed over the course of the year," Ms. Hill said.
Some analysts looked for promising picks among community banks.
Collyn Bement Gilbert of Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. in Baltimore described Columbia Bancorp, Columbia, Md., as a solid performer. Based on the current interest rate environment, Ms. Bement Gilbert said she expects its net interest margin to rise to 5.08% in 2000, from 5.01% in 1999. Columbia shares were unchanged Friday.
Ms. Bement Gilbert also said she expects Columbia's nonperforming assets to continue to decline as a result of greater diversification in its loan portfolio and because of its strong underwriting standards and the healthy economy.