* D. A. Davidson analyst Gary Tenner downgraded Southwest Bancorp Inc. to "neutral" from "buy," after Pine Bluff, Ark.-based Simmons First National Corp. announced its plan to acquire the Stillwater, Okla.-based company. The analyst raised his price target for Southwest to $30 from $27, in line with the per-share deal price of $30.80.
Simmons First is buying Southwest in an 80%-stock-and-20%-cash deal valued at around $564 million. The analyst noted that Southwest shares have gained more than 160% since Mark Funke became president and CEO in October 2012, compared to a 102% increase in the Nasdaq Bank Index and a 57% gain for the S&P 500. And the shares had appreciated 27% post-election and 36% year-to-date, before the deal announcement.
* Evercore ISI analyst John Pancari reiterated his "buy" rating for Wells Fargo & Co. after the company released its monthly retail banking customer activity report for November. He increased his target price for the company to $60 from $58.
Wells Fargo reported that about 300,000 checking accounts were opened by consumers in November, down 41% from the year-ago month. New checking accounts dropped 9% from October, a much less drastic dip than the 27% fall from September to October.
The analyst noted that the company also discussed the uncertainty around the company's 2017 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review. As the uncertainty relates to the company's phony-accounts scandal, Wells Fargo noted that the impact will depend on the company's ability to identify risks to its earnings, and respectively to the capital levels. The company added that any collateral effect from the living will rejection to its 2017 CCAR similarly depends on its ability to make sure that proper systems are in place.
Pancari still thinks the Wells stock is attractive in the long run, in spite of the "ongoing regulatory and headline risk." The current company valuation creates an attractive entry point for investors, he wrote.