Activist investor Jerome Davis is cashing out of an Iowa thrift, slightly more than a month after backing away from his recommendation that it find a buyer.

The Greenwich, Conn., shareholder in late May sold more than 81,000 shares at $8.85 per share, totaling $719,000. The move, disclosed in a June 13 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, cuts his stake in Newton- based Mid-Iowa Financial Corp. to 0.69% of the shares outstanding, from 5.38%.

The sale came about a month after Mr. Davis had said in an interview that he was pleased with the $115 million-asset thrift's earnings, and particularly with its stock price. In midday Tuesday trading, Mid-Iowa was at $8.75 a share; its book value is only $6.70.

Mr. Davis did not return telephone calls. Mid-Iowa officials could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Davis, who is known for staking out positions in recently converted thrifts and then pressuring them to boost shareholder value by selling out, had been targeting Mid-Iowa since the summer of 1995.

In January, he repeated an earlier recommendation that the thrift be sold. But he withdrew that advice in a May filing with the SEC after increasing his holdings in Mid-Iowa to 5.38%. Despite his satisfaction at the time with the thrift's recent performance, he said he would still support a sale at the right price-at least $10 per share.

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