As Citicorp investors rush to book profits from Monday's run-up in the stock, at least one analyst is advising them to sit tight.
Citicorp shares should rise 25%, to $200, within the next 12 months, Carla D'Arista of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., said Wednesday. Two days after the banking company unveiled its $70 billion merger pact with Travelers Group, Ms. D'Arista upgraded its stock to "buy" from "accumulate."
Citicorp shares, which soared 27%, to $182, on the merger news Monday, lost altitude Tuesday and Wednesday as investors pocketed gains. The stock closed yesterday at $164.875, down 25 cents.
The creation of the merged company, Citigroup, should help boost share prices short-term and produce $1 billion in incremental earnings over the next eight quarters, Ms. D'Arista said.
Citi, with 40 million customers in the United States, would add another 20 million with Travelers, and the combination presents a myriad of cross- selling opportunities, she said.
For the day, the Standard & Poor's bank index dropped 1.50% and the Dow Jones industrial average 0.73%. The Nasdaq bank index dipped 0.60% and the S&P 500 0.72%.
BankAmerica Corp. fell $2.125, to $84.50; Banc One Corp. shed $2.3125, to $61.625; Capital One Financial Corp. lost $1.625, to $83.3125; and Chase Manhattan Corp. slipped $3.375, to $140.125.
Bucking the tide, Whitney Holding Corp. jumped more than $3, before settling at $59.25, up 50 cents for the day.
The New Orleans banking company, with 100 branches in four southern states, is in the heart of the Southeast, an area targeted by superregional banks.
But Whitney, with $4.3 billion of assets, is not in merger discussions, said chief financial officer Edward Grimball.
"No, it's nothing like that," Mr. Grimball said of the stock jump. The company's shares are thinly traded, so any larger purchase is likely to noticeably boost the price, he said.
Still, market watchers said Whitney has strong appeal as a merger partner.
"A bank of their size and location could be thought of as a takeover target," said banking analyst Christopher Kelly at Morgan Keegan Inc.
But in Whitney's case, the company is not waiting around for an acquirer. "They're doing their own thing, in terms of making acquisitions and identifying markets they want to be in," Mr. Kelly said.
Zions Bancorp. rose 25 cents, to $51, following a reiterated "buy" recommendation from Steven R. Schroll at Piper Jaffray Inc.
The Salt Lake City company, which recently agreed to buy Sumitomo Bank of California, is looking at a solid first quarter, with "strong loan growth" focused around commercial, consumer, and commercial real estate lending, Mr. Schroll said.
A small mortgage servicing portfolio is allowing Zions to sidestep prepayment woes affecting other lending institutions, Mr. Schroll said.