Stocks of thrifts that have just gone public are getting battered in an increasingly volatile market.
Shares of First Kansas Financial Corp., which made their debut Friday, fell in Monday's session, while other bank and thrift stocks rallied. Shares of the Osawatomie, Kan., company were priced at $10 and rose to a high of $12 on Friday. But on Monday the stock fell 56.25 cents, to $12.3125.
Only last year, investors clamored for the stock of any savings company. At the time, shares of such initial public offerings were so hot that regulators began to grow uneasy.
However, as market volatility has increased, investors have backed away from thrift stocks and their initial public offerings.
The overall market for thrift stocks is up only 1% for the year, said analyst Martin S. Friedman of Friedman Billings & Ramsey, Arlington, Va. "Buyers would rather focus on the stocks at lower levels," he said.
Investors are also steering clear as thrifts struggle harder to maintain profitability levels because of the flattening yield curve, Mr. Friedman added.
When yields across various maturities of Treasury securities converge, thrifts cannot make money on the spreads.
In some cases, investor apathy has caused some thrift stocks to trade below or slightly up from their initial offering prices.
First Source Bancorp, Woodbridge, N.J., which opened at $10 closed at $10 in Monday trading; South Banc Shares, Anderson, N.J., which opened with an initial public offering stock price of $20, closed at $19.75 on Monday; Pocahontas (Ark.) Bancorp, which opened at $10, closed down $9.75; and Peoples Bancorp, Lawrenceville, N.J., which opened with an initial public offering of $10, closed at $10.25 in Monday trading.
Such lackluster performance is a new experience in a market once hailed as a gold mine by legendary stock picker and author Peter Lynch.
A bigger sign of the cooler climate, is the trouble that some offerings have had in luring investors. Once quickly oversubscribed by eager investors, some thrift issues have faced the prospect of being underbought.
Thistle Group and PSB Bancorp, two thrifts in Philadelphia, recently had to extend their initial public offerings because of lackluster investor interest.
Anthony DiSandro, president of PSB Bancorp, acknowledged that the violent swings in the market have kept some investors on the sidelines.
"However, that is good," said Mr. DiSandro. "Many investors are flippers (that is, investors who invest in a company solely for a quick jump in the stock price) and they don't really believe in the company to begin with."
Ben Plotkin, president of Ryan Beck & Co., Livingston, N.J. said both thrift initial public offerings were undersubscribed because they were two- step conversions, meaning they were transactions where the company is brought public in two stages.
"These were second-step transactions and they behave like secondary offerings." Mr. Plotkin, whose firm did not underwrite the initial public offering. "They did not have the scarcity value that initial public offerings do."