First National Bank of Anchorage stock is like Alaskan gold: It's hard to find, but a little bit is worth a lot.

Shares of the state's second-largest independent bank trade for around $1,600. If you called your broker for a typical 100-share purchase, it would cost a hefty $160,000 - assuming that many shares could be found.

"The bank doesn't make a market in its stock," said Jason Roth, senior vice president of $1.4 billion-asset First National. "You'll sometimes see ads in the paper for the stock occasionally. We're not publicly traded and we're not on any exchange."

If you can get your hands on some First National stock, you're in for a nice reward. The bank recently declared a dividend of $12.50 per share. But that means you'd need 128 shares - worth nearly $205,000 - to earn enough from dividends to purchase another share.

With just 200,000 shares outstanding, more than half of which are owned by the Cuddy family, First National stock can be a tough entity to track down. A listing for the bank's stock can be found only in the Pink Sheets.

First National isn't the only banking stock trading at dizzying heights. First National Bank of Nebraska, Omaha, with assets of nearly $6 billion, has a share price of more than $4,000, while First National Bank of Evergreen, Evergreen Park, Ill., trades at around $350 per share and Berlin (N.H.) City Bank is around $250.


In an industry noted for tight purse strings, the Commercial Bank of San Francisco is taking an unusual tack: It's giving money away.

As part of the advertising campaign for its Small Business Administration lending program, Commercial is including a crisp $1 bill in its direct mailings. The $85 million bank, a SBA preferred lender, is targeting food processors, printers, and auto repair shops in the Bay Area.

Janine Perrignon, vice president and manager of Commercial Bank's SBA lending department, said the campaign has been a success. She said she was surprised by the 10% response rate to the mailings, which began last month.

"Frankly, I was a little skeptical at first. We've done direct mailings in the past and they haven't gotten much positive response," she said. "What happens usually is that you either get no response, or you get a big response but nobody qualifies."

The mailing's information packet has a dollar bill on top and is wrapped by a small band that says "To introduce our SBA loan service, we're giving away free samples."

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