The fourth-quarter profit outlook for banks, already clouded by several high-profile warnings, dimmed further as a handful of community banks last week said they would fall short of analysts' earnings estimates for the period.

The cautionary comments from Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Anchor Financial Corp. and MetroCorp Bancshares Inc. of Houston did not generate the kind of marketwide worries that recent warnings from larger banks did. However, analysts said the smaller banks' woes may be more indicative of where the real profit risks lie this quarter.

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