As Boston Bancorp shares continue to rise on takeover rumors, some banking experts are saying the stock has become overvalued.
Shares hit tkt Thursday, up tkkt and tkt% for the week. Last Friday the company's top two executives, who had insisted on keeping it independent, were fired amid a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. investigation.
The rally was triggered by an interview with the acting CEO, Peter Hersey, in which he did not rule out a takeover.
Some say the bank's asset mix weighs against a sale, however.
For instance, 81% of Boston Bancorp's $2 billion of assets are securities that could be bought cheaper on the open market, said Stanley Wells, an executive vice president in the Hartford, Conn., office of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
What's more, roughly half of the thrift's $1.4 billion in deposits are certificates of deposits, which are less valuable than demand and savings deposits, he said.
Assuming a 3% premium to deposits, the thrift would sell for $160 million, or less than $30 a share. Even given a 6% premium, about the average in New England, Mr. Wells said, the price would still be just over $37 a share.
But James Moynihan of Advest Inc. said the acquisition price range the market seems to expect - $40 to $45 per share - is justified, because the bank should garner between 1.8 times and two times book value.
Banks are interested in deposits, he said, and Boston Bancorp has the highest deposit-to-asset ratio of any company in Massachusetts. The high deposit concentration in its seven branches is another attraction, he added.
A source at a major regional New England bank that could be a potential acquirer agreed with Mr. Wells' negative assessment. He added that many of the CDs were "hot" - that is, that they had high interest rates.
Boston Bancorp "hasn't caused our hearts to flutter," this source said.
Shawmut National Corp., Fleet Financial Corp., Bank of Boston Corp., and Citizens Financial Corp. are being mentioned as possible buyers of the thrift.