Fresh from its acquisition of hometown rival Ameritrust Corp., Society Corp. struck a deal on Monday to buy a Florida thrift.
The Cleveland company agreed to pay $141 million in cash for First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Fort Myers. The thrift has $1.1 billion in assets, and the price equals 1.5 times its book value.
The deal, which is set to close by yearend, is expected to moderately boost Society's profitability in 1993, the company said.
First Federal Takes Off
The share prices of First Federal soared Monday. In late trading it was up $8.50, to $42.50. Society shares were down 62.5 cents, to $55.625.
First Federal is among several healthy Florida thrifts whose stock prices have risen in recent months on takeover speculation.
Now that most healthy mid-sized banks and government-owned thrifts have been snapped up, healthy thrifts are left as the only market entry vehicles.
The $2.6 billion=asset Fortune Bank, Clearwater; and $1.4 billion-asset BancFlorida, Naples, also are seen b analysts as acquisition targets.
Late Monday, Fortune shares were trading at $17.75, up 50 cents. BancFlorida shares were trading at $8.875, unchanged.
Following Customers South
First Federal is a healthy thrift situated in a fast-growing region of Florida where retirees-many from the Midwest-are are flocking.
Henry Meyer, vice chairman at Society, said his company operates trust offices in Tampa, West Palm beach, and Naples.
He said that operating a depository institution in the origin would further help Society retain upscale midwestern customers retiring in Florida.
Society is joining a parade of Midwest banking companies that have bought depository institutions in Florida. These include Comerica Inc., Detroit; Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati; and Huntington Bancshares Inc., Columbus, Ohio.
Observers Like the Deal
Analyst voiced support for the transaction.
First Federal is "a clean shop and a fairly good transaction," said Fred Cummings, a banking analyst with McDonald & Co., Cleveland.
The thrift operates 24 branches and posted annualized returns of 1.28% on average assets and 15.7% on average equity during the first nine months of a fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Analyst sounded one note of caution about First Federal, saying that its relatively wide mismatch of deposit and loan maturities, though beneficial while rates were falling, could spell trouble if rates climb.
At March 31, 15% more deposits than loans were scheduled to mature over the next 12 months, according to Mr. cummings, compared with a ratio of less than 5% among publicly traded thrifts.