bank team kicked off coverage on mid-cap banks Tuesday with more of the straight talking it did on the big bank names last week.
Bank analyst David Trone, who joined the firm alongside Michael Mayo in early February, is also a former
Credit Suisse First Boston
bank analyst. Like Mayo, Trone also left CSFB following its merger with
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
. Today Trone initiated coverage of 15 banks, slapping sell ratings on nine, and strong buy ratings on six.
last week's research, which took a contrarian view of many of the large banks (for instance, Mayo put a sell rating on industry favorite
Bank of New York
), Trone's research seemed more in line with what others on Wall Street are saying.
Beverly Hills, Calif.-based
, which was started as a strong buy, won kudos from Trone for its focus on "higher-margin customers that pay for high-touch service. This allows the company to avoid building scale, and still compete in its niches," said Trone.
bank analyst Brock Vandervliet upgraded the stock to strong buy last week, noting its high-quality franchise and "excellent long-term prospects due to its market niche." City National was off 21 cents at $36.05.
Among banks that received sell ratings, such as
, it's no secret that both
UnionBanCal have struggled with credit quality in recent months.
Still, the report did offer a bit of vinegar on a few subjects: Regarding
, rated sell, Trone said the name should be "more like 'Last Virginia Bank.'" On
, also rated sell, the analyst intoned, "Thank you, Alan, may I have another?" addressing the bank's sensitivity to interest rates.