Keycorp shares remained at their 52-week high on Wednesday following the banking company's annual session in Cleveland with Wall Street analysts.
The shares were unchanged at $35, after a gain of 37.5 cents on Tuesday.
But the stock has not matched the strong performance of many other bank issues this year, and there are differing views on the Cleveland company's outlook.
Frank J. Barkocy of Advest Inc. reiterated a "buy" rating on the shares, saying they "continue to provide attractive appreciation potential."
The analyst noted that the stock is "still selling at close to a full- multiple point on projected 1996 earnings, versus its peer group."
After the meeting, Mr. Barkocy said the company has a focused game plan that, if successfully implemented, could provide the basis for "sustained double-digit earnings growth."
New efforts by Keycorp in technology, quality control, cost efficiency, product development, and market segmentation should mean earnings-per-share growth of 10% to 12%, he said.
Mr. Barkocy left unchanged his earnings estimate of $3.43 per share for this year, but lowered his 1996 forecast to $3.78 from $3.85 per share.
Meanwhile, analyst Nancy A. Bush of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. lowered her short-term rating to "hold" from "buy," saying she was "in a bit of a dilemma about the stock."
While Keycorp has "formidable market talent and product innovations," she said, it appears that next year is going to be "a bit of a slog when it comes to generating top-line growth."
In fact, she noted that half the growth rate of next year will come from the impending reduction in premiums levied by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"So a pure apples-to-apples comparison will put earnings growth at Keycorp closer to 5% next year," rather than the 10% growth in reported earnings generally projected for the company.
Most analysts also think 10% growth will be around the average for the industry next year.
"The company is clearly trying to avoid disappointments in 1996 and is sending signals that margins and top-line growth will remain on the flattish side in the near term," she said.
The analyst cut 5 cents from her 1995 and 1996 earnings estimates for the company. She now expects it to earn $3.40 per share this year and $3.75 next year. According to First Call Corp. the consensus estimate of the 29 analysts rating the stock is $3.40 per share in in 1995 and $3.72 in 1996.
Ms. Bush fine-tuned her third-quarter estimate to 85 cents from 86 cents, versus 92 cents a year ago.
Nevertheless, Ms. Bush termed the meeting a success, calling Keycorp "an intelligent company with a formidable geographic reach and some cutting- edge ideas about their relationships with their customers."
She said she was particularly impressed with Keycorp's MAX customer system, a comprehensive customer information data base that permits sophisticated cross-selling.
The company also presented its latest marketing strategies. Among their chief aims are product simplification and speed of delivery.
Keycorp is the only bank Brown Brothers covers that has "a comprehensive plan for building a brand identity for their company," she said, "and they're far ahead of the industry in this regard."
In addition to her short-term "hold" rating, Ms. Bush's long-term fundamental rating on the stock is "market performer." But she said she would "definitely be interested" in Keycorp stock when the group correction in banking stocks "inevitably occurs."