Almost half of U.S. thrifts are selling below book value, and now that their owners are getting used to such low valuations, a new round of merger and acquisition activity may be in the offing, experts say.

Deal activity in the thrift sector stalled this year because sellers have been angling for last year's high prices in this year's down market, said Ben A. Plotkin, president of Ryan, Beck & Co. in Livingston, N.J. But that attitude is changing, he said.

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