Shares of Intuit Inc. rose 24% Wednesday on rumors that American Express Co. might be poised to buy the financial software company.
Intuit shares were trading at $36.50, up $7, while American Express shares gained 12.5 cents to $48.50. Neither company would comment on the rumors.
Separately, shares of First Chicago NBD Corp. rose 87.5 cents to $54.75, despite being downgraded by Merrill Lynch & Co. to long-term "accumulate" from long-term "buy."
Analyst Judah Kraushaar - who cited a recent surge in problem credits - cut his 1996 earnings estimate to $4.35 from $4.40 and his 1997 estimate to $4.90 from $5.05.
Analyst George Salem of Gerard Klauer Mattison & Co. reiterated his "buy" ratings on BankAmerica Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., NationsBank Corp., Norwest Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., saying that "plenty of upside remains" in bank stocks even after their recent rally.
BankAmerica shares rose $1.50 to $94.75; Chase Manhattan stock gained 50 cents to $89; NationsBank was unchanged at $95.175; and Norwest climbed 12.5 cents to $44.375. Wells Fargo fell $1.375 to $271.875.
Among the hottest bank stocks Wednesday were Barnett Banks Inc., up $1 to $39.75, and Mellon Bank Corp., up $1.125 to $66.50.
One reason for the surge is that the banks are cleaning up their credit card portfolios by selling receivables to PNC Bank, said analyst Anthony Davis of Dean Witter Reynolds.
Another big gainer in early trading was Old Kent Financial, which ended the day up 87.5 cents at $45.75.