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Carson Block shorts Bank of the Ozarks; stock tumbles, bounces back

Citing an aggressive real estate lending strategy, MuddyWaters Research founder Carson Block said he shorted stock on May4, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Stock for the Little Rock, Ark.-based company was down 4.41%to $37.69 at market close on May 4, with the price hitting a low of $33.66during the day.

According to the Journal,Block made the remarks about Bank of the Ozarks' real estate lending during theSohn Investment Conference, adding that he feels that the bank should haveinstead taken into account the cooling of the real estate market and made moreloss reserves for its real estate loans. The news report added that Blockcalled the bank dependent on acquisitions but running out of targets.

Bank of the Ozarks was unable to immediately respond toS&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.

However, Raymond James analyst Michael Rose questionedBlock's move, calling the investor's analysis "muddy at best."

In a May 4 report, Rose pointed to Bank of the Ozarks'leverage, stating that unless the U.S. saw another real estate crash worse thanthat of the Great Recession, the company's 50% loan to cost and 44% loan toappraised value indicated a small loss, if any at all, in Bank of the Ozark'sreal estate specialties group.

Furthermore, he cited Bank of the Ozarks' roughly $3 billionsecondary liquidity sources, which will help fund growth, also stating that thecompany has high-teens returns on tangible equity and a 1.70%-plus return onassets, which indicate growth in capital greater than the cost of capital.

The bottom line, Rose wrote, was that the "[r]eactionto muddy analysis is overdone and we would buy on weakness."