Many a stock analyst has predicted a merger accurately, but few have done so with the timing of Chad Yonker.

On Monday morning, the New York-based analyst for Fox-Pitt, Kelton issued a new report on Greater New York Savings Bank predicting that the thrift "would make an excellent takeover candidate for many of the larger acquisitive New York City thrifts."

Almost simultaneously that morning, Astoria Financial Corp., one of the larger New York thrifts at $7.3 billion of assets, announced it would buy the $2.5 billion-asset Greater New York for $293 million.

"You get lucky sometimes," Mr. Yonker said with a chuckle.

Mr. Yonker actually changed his recommendation on Greater New York to "attractive" from "buy" last Thursday, when the thrift's stock price shot up, but didn't issue the printed report until Monday. He also predicted a takeover price of $19-$20 per share. Astoria is paying $19.

"It just comes from doing your homework," said Mr. Yonker, reached while on a business trip. "It looked like the appropriate thing for them to do would be to sell out. I didn't necessarily expect it would happen that day." - Jonathan D. Epstein

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As Congress prepares to address automated teller machine surcharges, a small North Carolina thrift has declared war on the controversial fees.

Greensboro-based Carolina Savings Bank fired off a news release last week announcing its "war" on surcharges. The $16.3 million-asset bank said it will pay any charges customers incur when they use other banks' machines.

Robert T. Braswell, president and chief executive officer of the five- month-old thrift, said it is able to eat the costs for the "foreseeable future." He said he was tired of seeing customers frustrated by ATM fees.

The fledgling thrift is bucking a national trend. Even the nation's smallest institutions are starting to impose surcharges on noncustomers who use their ATMs. Noncustomers were charged user fees at 65% of U.S. ATMs as of February, compared to 40% last August, according to Carmody & Bloom Inc., a Ridgewood, N.J., consulting firm.

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