The muted market reaction to North Fork Bancorp. paying what one analyst called a "Neiman-Marcus price" for a traditional thrift shows just how much investors are disregarding traditional ways of measuring deals.

North Fork, based in Melville, N.Y., said Tuesday evening it would buy New York Bancorp. for $800 million-a whopping 4.8 times book value, more than any bank has ever paid for a thrift. In the not very distant past, such a price tag would have brought on an extreme case of sticker shock.

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