Shares of Riggs National Corp., the largest independent bank in the nation's capital, may have caught takeover fewer.
Analysts think a sharp run-up in Riggs' share price this week and over the past 10 days may be a "spillover effect" from the imminent sale of Washington-based First American Bankshares Inc.
Riggs' stock on Tuesday was up 12.5 cents to $9.625 after soaring 8.6% the previous day. The shares have leapt about 20% in the past two weeks.
Approaching Book Value
Indeed, the stock is nearing Riggs' Sept. 30 book value of $10.13 per share. The share have not traded at a premium to book in several years because of the company's severe credit quality problems.
"An announcement about First American is expected soon, and that may have increased the interest in Riggs and a few other banks in the Washington area," said Anthony Davis of Wheat First Securities, Richmond.
The Federal Reserve Board last year ordered the sale of First American after discovering that it was illegally owned by the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Last week, KeyCorp agreed to buy most of First American's New York operations.
A number of potential buyers have emerged for First American's Washington-area bank, which has been Riggs' principal independent competitor in the District of Columbia.
Franchise Value Cited
In turn, the move in Riggs' stock probably reflects investors' assessment of "its franchise value in a consolidating market," said Thomas J. Romano, bank analyst and managing director of McConnell, Budd & Downes Inc., Chatham N.J.
Joe L. Albritton, Riggs' chairman and chief executive officer, is also its largest shareholder, with 34%.
David Palombi, a Riggs spokesman, said the company "knows of no corporate development to account for the unusual activity in its stock."
It seems unlikely the stock is moving on a prospective turn in Riggs' fundamental financial situation.
Mr. Romano termed the bank's third-quarter earnings "very disappointing, particularly as related to loan quality issues."
He noted that the bank was able to generate nominal earnings of $1.2 million, or 5 cents a share, only after recognizing $22.1 million in securities gains. The banking company lost $61.2 million the third quarter of 1991.
Mr. Romano estimated that Riggs would earn 20 cent a share this year and 45 cents next year.
Analyst James H. Weber of Johnston, Lemon & Co., Washington, thinks Riggs will do slightly better next year than this year but said earnings remain difficult to estimate because of asset quality problems.
Although domestic loan problems have stabilized, credit-related difficulties at a British subsidiary, Riggs A.P., have not yet peaked.
Mr. Webber thinks Riggs will earn 15 cents a share this year and 20 cents next year.
But Riggs is rated a survivor. Since it raised capital and built reserves this year, Mr. Romano remains "convinced the company has the wherewithal to weather the storm."