Shares of Republic New York Corp. are surging as Wall Street takes note of the company's restructuring.
"It's kind of a turnaround story," said Stephen Biggar, a banking analyst at S&P Equity Group. "This is one of the cheapest stocks of the regional bank group."
Republic is working its way back from the losses it suffered last year when Russia's economy collapsed.
Analysts applauded Republic's decision to take a $104 million pretax charge to focus on private banking, retail services, and niche corporate businesses. That charge led to a 60% decline in first-quarter profits, to $46.5 million, offsetting large trading gains.
Since it announced its restructuring plan last Thursday, Republic shares are up 12%, to $57.8125. Of that gain, $3.125 came Wednesday.
The company also has new management, with Dov C. Schlein, formerly chief operating officer, now chairman and chief executive officer.
Analysts credit the new management with a new candor about operations. "They're being more forthcoming about telling their story," Mr. Biggar said.
Bank stocks were mixed Wednesday, with some pulling back a bit after gains Tuesday. Citigroup Inc. dropped 31.25 cents, to $74.5625; Chase Manhattan Corp. $1.9375, to $83.625; and J.P. Morgan & Co. $1.9375, to $135.8125.
The Standard & Poor's bank index fell 0.80% and the S&P 500 fell 0.87%. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.13% and the Nasdaq bank index 0.86%.
Shares of BankAtlantic Bancorp were unchanged at $7.9375 as chairman Alan B. Levan discussed growth plans with the New York Society of Securities Analysts.
The Fort Lauderdale company took hits last year as it left the mortgage business, added executives, opened branches, and expanded its ATM network.
"We look at 1998 as an isolated period of earnings adjustment," Mr. Levan said. "Our job at this point is to show that the opportunities we took were well-placed."
In expanding its ATM network, BankAtlantic has placed units in community colleges, supermarkets, and on cruise ships.
BankAtlantic also picked up 50 executives from Barnett Banks Inc. after NationsBank Corp., now BankAmerica Corp., bought Barnett, Mr. Levan said. "We're very pleased with the talent we were able to amass."
The executives hold top slots throughout the banking organization, in community and commercial banking.
BankAtlantic is now focused on building up its small-business lending operation, Mr. Levan said.
In addition, the company is expanding its cash management business, telebanking, trade finance, direct consumer lending, and capital markets operations.
Shares of BankAtlantic have appeal "as a value play and at some point down the road as a takeout candidate," said Frank Barkocy, a banking analyst at Keefe Management.
Shares of U.S. Trust Corp. were up $1.50, at $92, after positive comments by Merrill Lynch banking analyst Sean Chin.
U.S. Trust "has a focused success model in wealth management," Mr. Chin said. "We believe the firm can generate strong earnings-per-share growth and return on equity due to its focus on personal investment management for the fast-growing high-net-worth market."
Shares of Valley National Bancorp rose $1.25 to $29, after the New Jersey company said it would buy back as many as 2.75 million shares. Valley has 55.3 million common shares outstanding. The reacquired shares would be held in treasury and used for the company's 5% stock dividend.