Citicorp shares lost ground Thursday after Salomon Brothers analyst Diane B. Glossman downgraded them to "buy" from "strong buy."
The stock dropped $1.75, to $84.875, on a day in which bank stocks in general posted mixed results.
Ms. Glossman said she based her action on price, noting that the stock had appreciated 28.8% for the year. The analyst, who maintained a $99 price target for the stock by the end of the year, said she continues to prefer Citicorp to most other stocks in the banking group.
Analyst David Berry of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods agreed that Citicorp, while fundamentally strong, may not merit the enthusiasm it once commanded as an investment. "It's just not the table-pounder it was. At some point, you might find better ideas in the marketplace,"
Mr. Berry said that a number of analysts have price targets of around $100, which, at the current stock price, makes Citicorp a bit less attractive.
"The fundamentals for the bank are great," Mr. Berry said. "Any target price you want can be gotten if you just want to wait long enough."
Ms. Glossman's estimates of Citicorp's earnings per share are $7.75 for 1996 and $8.75 for 1997.
Separately, trading volume in Regions Financial Corp. was more than 10 times the daily average as the stock reached a 52-week high of $48.375, up 31.2 cents. The volume traded, 1.316 million shares, was the heaviest in the decade for the Birmingham, Ala., bank.
A market source said that much of the volume was a result of the bank's share buyback program.
The bank market was mixed, despite an easing of concern about inflation, which pushed the coupon on the benchmark 30-year treasury to 6.90% from 6.95%. The Standard & Poor's bank index closed down 0.62%%
Gainers in Thursday's market included Norwest Corp., which rose 50 cents to $35.75 and USTCorp., which jumped 12.5 cents to $13.25.
TransFinancial Inc. continued to trade actively, with 214,300 shares trading, following the resignation Tuesday of chief executive officer Douglas Lester. His departure was welcomed by investors, who favor a return to the company's core banking focus after two disappointing quarter.
Besides Citicorp, losers for the day included First Chicago NBD, which fell $1 to $43.50; FirstStar Corp., which dropped 87.5 cents at $48.625, and First of America, which slid $1 to $46.