In the latest bout of takeover fever, shares of Florida's Seacoast Banking Corp. jumped sharply on Tuesday after receiving a "buy" rating.
The stock gained tktk to tktk, a new 52-week high after being recommended by Raymond James & Associates, St. Petersburg.
Analyst Richard X. Bove said the bank, which has just $687 million of assets, is "probably the most desirable small bank for an acquirer in the state of Florida."
Mr. Bove also noted that the company has recently bolstered its management team and should enjoy good earnings growth in the absence of a takeover.
Despite its size, the bank has a dominant 38% of the deposit market in Martin County, which has the second-highest per capita income in Florida and is also growing more rapidly than the rest of the state, he said.
In other desirable parts of Florida, the top market shares are already commanded by either Barnett Banks Inc., the state's largest bank, or out- of-state superregional banks like First Union Corp. and NationsBank Corp.
Mr. Bove noted that Seacoast has "abundant low-cost deposits and an unusually liquid portfolio of loans and securities. A buyer could quickly increase the yield on this portfolio."
At the same time, the bank ranks as a high-cost operator, so a buyer could quickly slash expenses and achieve efficiencies.
The takeover outlook is problematic because Seacoast is controlled by the Hudson family. It has demonstrated no eagerness to sell, Mr. Bove said, but single-owner status also means only one negotiator is involved in case of a sale.
"They are the top bank in a terrific growth area," agreed Samuel J. Beebe, an analyst at William R. Hough & Co., St. Petersburg.
Mr. Beebe is neutral on the stock, given its relatively high price, at 170% of book value, and family ownership. Dennis S. Hudson 3d, the next likely family member to run the company, is just 39 years old, he pointed out.
But he also noted that CSF Holdings, Miami, a thrift company, was similarly controlled by the Stuzin family. CSF was sold earlier this year to NationsBank Corp. at a significant premium.
"Obviously, you should never say never," Mr. Beebe said.
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Peoples Heritage Financial Group, Portland, Maine, enjoyed the most positive earnings revision by analysts last week, according to First Call Corp. The consensus estimate for its 1995 earnings rose 2.6%, to $1.98 per share, and the 1996 forecast was up 4.8%, to $2.18.
Analyst Donald Kauth of First Albany Corp. said he lifted his estimates on the company last Friday, moving to $2 from $1.95 for this year and to $2.15 from $2.05 for 1996.
The 1996 consensus earnings estimate for Hibernia Corp., New Orleans, was the second-biggest gainer, up 2.4% to 85 cents per share.
The biggest negative revision was to the earnings outlook for Southwest Bancshares, Homewood, Ill. The consensus for 1995 earnings at the thrift company fell 4.6%, to $1.87 per share.