Two community banks' stocks have recently moved strongly-but in opposite directions-on news of expansion plans.

Shares of Alaska's Northrim Bank sank 12% last week after it began a secondary stock offering whose proceeds will be used to buy branches from Bank of America Corp. The shares closed Friday at $10.75 but rallied slightly Monday to close at $10.875.

Meanwhile, shares of Century Bancorp of Somerville, Mass., advanced 5% last week, to $18.8125, as Wall Street credited the company for growing last quarter.

"We were out beating the bushes in the first quarter," said Century's chairman, Marshall M. Sloane. Its stock closed Monday at $18.875 a share.

These disparate price moves came during a week when the Nasdaq bank index, a proxy for small-bank stock activity, gained 2.9%.

Northrim, a $354 million-asset banking company based in Anchorage, raised $19 million by offering shares at $11 each, compared with the $12.25 at which they had previously traded.

Proceeds of the offering went to buy eight branches in the Anchorage area from Bank of America Corp., enabling Northrim to increase its branch network to 11 offices.

The company viewed the secondary offering as the best way to finance the deal, said Chris Knudson, Northrim's chief operating officer.

The fact that Wall Street didn't want to give the company more than $11 a share was unfortunate, Mr. Knudson said, but Northrim felt the deal was too good to pass up.

"We now have a much better delivery system," with the Bank of America branches, Mr. Knudson said. "We can give more focus on sales to consumers."

In seeking more diversity for its banking operations, Northrim wants to add a retail base to operations that now largely emphasize commercial lending, Mr. Knudson said.

Century Bancorp's shares rose as the company reported first-quarter net income of $2.1 million, a 19% jump from the year earlier.

During the year, assets grew 46%, to $861 million, as Century's loan officers booked new business.

The company can look forward to even more growth as a consequence of the combination of BankBoston Corp. and Fleet Financial Group, Mr. Sloane said.

The planned Fleet Boston Corp. will not pay as much attention to the kind of business that Century goes after-companies with $1 million to $30 million of revenues, Mr. Sloane predicted.

"I don't think they care about this end of the business," he said. "They want the big stuff."

Century may also bid on some of the branches that Fleet and BankBoston divest, he added.

The company's strategy gets high marks from analysts.

"This is a very well run organization," said Joseph Famoso, a banking analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

The challenge to Century "is preserving its margins," he said. "They operate in a very competitive area."

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