Shares of NationsBank Corp., which completed its acquisition of Boatmen's Bancshares on Tuesday, may be poised to pick up new momentum.
Lehman Brothers, the New York securities firm, signaled its confidence in the stock Tuesday by placing NationsBank on its firmwide "10 Uncommon Values List" in place of Boatmen's.
"We're letting the money ride," said Lehman regional-bank analyst Michael L. Mayo, who added it was unusual for a buyer of a company on the highly selective list to itself join the roster after a deal.
"NationsBank is one of the least expensive bank stocks, based on 1998 estimated earnings, and should receive more attention as the benefits of the merger become more apparent," he said.
Mr. Mayo has a six-to-12 month price target of $115 on the stock, which fell sharply after the Boatmen's deal was announced Aug. 30 and has lagged other bank stocks. On Tuesday, it was up 12.5 cents to $98.875 amid a broad market selloff.
The Lehman uncommon values list - prepared annually at midyear - currently includes an array of companies such as Boeing and Pepsico. Boatmen's was the only bank stock on the roster and NationsBank will be the only one until July.
Mr. Mayo and other analysts feel the stock should also benefit because NationsBank will soon be able to resume repurchasing its own stock after a hiatus required by the merger process.
The blackout will end a few days after NationsBank reports its fourth quarter and 1996 annual earnings on Monday. Mr. Mayo estimates that the company will be allowed to buy back from 39 million to 55 million shares, or 11% to 15% of its shares outstanding.
Analyst Nancy A. Bush of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., who has also recommended the stock, thinks the $9.76 billion Boatmen's acquisition, creating the nation's fourth-largest banking company, will be "challenging" for NationsBank. "But I think they fully appreciate what needs to be done and will get it done," she said Tuesday.
NationsBank is expected to offer Wall Street a detailed post-merger scenario when its earnings are made public.
In a preview on Tuesday, James Hance Jr., NationsBank's chief financial officer, told Bloomberg News Service that the North Carolina-based superregional bank expects to make larger cuts in expenses and add more revenue than originally projected.