Abington Savings's stock is on a roller coaster ride apparently fueled by rumors that the institution is on the selling block.
The $404 million-asset thrift's stock surged 33% to an all-time high of $19.25, on Aug. 12. But days later fell nearly $2.
Some analysts are skeptical there's even a deal brewing.
"This whole blowup is a figment of somebody's imagination,"said James Moynihan, an analyst with Advest Group Inc. "It's not going to happen."
The source of the rumor is unclear. Abington officials declined to comment.
Traders predicted the thrift could be sold for about $26 a share, almost twice its book value. But no likely buyer has emerged.
Mr. Moynihan said that some of New England's larger banks are seeking to fill in gaps in their market shares in areas such as Abington.
Abington could be attractive because it has five branches in a blue-collar area just south of Boston.
He said Abington officials believe that at this point the franchise wouldn't be much value to an acquirer. "But they'd like to grow the franchise so that somewhere down the line, at some point in time, it would be attractive to a buyer," he said.
Following that reasoning, he questioned whether the thrift would be interested in a sale yet.
Abington bought $40 million-asset Hull (Mass.) Co-operative Bank and is looking at three or four other small thrifts in Massachusetts, according to Mr. Moynihan.
"You've got a very young, aggressive management team and I think the last thing they would like is to be acquired," he said. "Certainly more often than not, where there's smoke, there's fire. But I think if the management had their druthers, they'd rather remain independent."
Prior to last week, Abington's stock price had tended to hover around $14. The surge started last Thursday and the stock closed Friday at $18.25, which is 123% of its book value of $14.79 per share.
The average Massachusetts thrift is currently selling at about 121% of book value.
"Looking at the fundamentals of the company, it should at least sell with the averages,"Mr. Moynihan said.
But the stock fell early this week to $17.50, only 113% of book value, disappointing some analysts.
"It's given up quite a bit this week, solely on wild rumors last week that a takeover would be announced [last] Friday,"Mr. Moynihan said