When Florida First Bancorp stock began trading publicly last Wednesday, the thrift company's executives gathered at Nasdaq's Washington headquarters to root for a big first-day gain.

But investors showed little interest in the Lakeland-based company and the stock came out of the gates more than $1 below its $10 offering price. By day's end, the price had fallen to $7.875-among the worst first-day drops for a newly public thrift company in this decade.

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