NationsBank Corp. and Michigan's Republic Bancorp won new "buy" ratings on Monday in a mixed trading session.
Lawrence R. Vitale of Bear, Stearns & Co. raised his rating on NationsBank Corp., to "buy" from "neutral," saying the recent decline in the market has provided an investment opportunity in the Charlotte, N.C., superregional.
Nevertheless, shares fell $1.125 to $92.25.
Mr. Vitale noted that NationsBank's shareholders are scheduled to vote at the end of this week on its acquisition of Boatmen's Bancshares. He said estimates of revenue and cost savings from the deal have been increased since the deal was first announced in August.
"The deal has gone pretty well given the original reaction to its price," Mr. Vitale said. "We like what's going on inside the company."
Other observers were also positive about NationsBank's integration of Boatman's, which would boost the bank's assets to $230 billion.
"NationsBank has a proven record for success in digesting big acquisitions," said Bradley Ball of UBS Securities. "Though it was somewhat challenging for them to do an out-of-market transaction, a major positive is that Nations has brought in Boatmen's senior management. This bodes well for the integration process."
Deals that can generate enough cost savings to offset the cost of the acquisition will remain attractive, he added.
Deborah Beylus of J.W. Charles Securities Inc. initiated coverage of the Republic Bancorp with a "buy" rating.
"Republic has one of the cleanest balance sheets in the country," Ms. Beylus said, noting the Ann Arbor-based bank's conservative lending practices. The bank charged off only 0.06% of total loans in 1995.
She also pointed to Republic's residential mortgage business, which accounts for 85% of its loan portfolio. "They have a niche, and they know their market," she said.
The analyst estimates earnings per share of $1.05 for fiscal year 1997. Her 12-month price target is $16 per share.
Republic shares gained 12.5 cents, to $11.75.
Thomas J. Maier of Everen Securities Inc. also maintained a positive outlook on the bank.
"Republic is kind of an oddball with its mortgage banking business," he said, adding that Michigan's diverse economy and strong borrowing base make for good customers for Republic and its geographic peers.
Mr. Maier has a "market-perform" short term rating on the stock.
Overall, the banks edged into greener pastures for most of the day but fell back in late trading. The S&P Bank Index was off 0.85% for the day, and the Nasdaq Bank Index lost 0.18%.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.52 points, or 0.58%, to 6268.35.