Thrift investor Jerome Davis is calling on a small Maryland thrift company to take action to boost its stock price.
Mr. Davis and his wife, Susan, want WHG Bancshares Corp., parent of Heritage Savings Bank, to buy back stock, increase its regular dividend, pay a "large special dividend," and take other steps to "maximize shareholder value," according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Davises, of Connecticut, own 9.94% of $96.5 million-asset WHG Bancshares, which is headquartered in Lutherville, Md. WHG, whose subsidiary runs five branches outside Baltimore, converted from mutual ownership in March 1996.
In a handwritten letter to company management, Mr. Davis called earnings "poor" and said the stock price - currently $13 a share - won't appreciate unless changes are made.
However, Mr. Davis, an activist shareholder who has pushed for the sale of several thrifts nationally, never calls for the thrift company's sale in his letter.
But he does raise the question.
"With an average of only $14.4 million in deposits per branch, perhaps the value of WHG is greater to an acquirer?" he wrote.
Mr. Davis said in a telephone interview this week that he wrote the letter to the company because it was approaching its one year anniversary as a public company. He filed it with the SEC because of his large ownership in the company.
"It's not a fight," he said. "It's simply my expression of thought."
Peggy J. Stewart, president and chief executive of Heritage Savings Bank, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.