Community banks that underwent large share price moves in the past week include a Georgia bank viewed as takeover bait and an Ohio bank reeling from a borrower's failure.
Shares of Community First Banking Co. of Carrollton, Ga., which has $384 million of assets, soared on speculation that it might be bought by BB&T Corp. or another acquisitive southern bank.
Much of Community First's 15% share price increase last week came after BB&T of Winston-Salem, N.C., said it would buy First Liberty Financial Corp., a $1.7 billion-asset thrift in nearby Macon, Ga. Community First's share price hit its highest point of the year, $22.925, on Friday, but slipped to $22.25 by midday Tuesday.
Though the bank reported strong earnings late last week, C. Lynn Gable, chief financial officer, said he had little doubt about what drove shares in recent days.
"There is a lot of anticipation of combinations going on," he said.
Meanwhile, shares of Belmont Bancorp. plummeted. The $446 million-asset company, based in St. Clairsville, Ohio, fell 21% last week after Schwartz Homes, an area retailer and one of its leading customers, went out of business. Belmont hit its low point of the year, $13.50, on Friday, then recovered a bit and was trading at $14 midday Tuesday.