BOK recently announced that earnings for 1997 were $ 64.4 million, or $ 2.58 per share on a diluted basis. The net earnings marked an increase of 19.4 percent over 1996 earnings of $ 54.1 million. Earnings per share were up 18.3 percent.
"The company desires to use its stock for acquisition of other bank holding companies, but is somewhat constrained by the relative lack of stock float and trading volume," BOK officials said in a news release.
"Management believes that the superior financial and operating performance of the company has not been fully recognized, compared with other banks of similar size and performance.
BOK leaders recently began discussions with investment banking firms to consider several measures to increase the following of BOK stock in the market.
"These discussions are continuing and concern a more active investor relations program, more market makers for the company's stock, initiation of research coverage, and improvement in stock float and volume," BOK officials said.
BOK said George B. Kaiser, chairman and a principal stockholder, acquired 13,700 shares late last week at an average price of $ 42.57 per share and at a high price of $ 46.
BOK Financial is a multibank holding company with $ 5.4 billion in assets. Its banking subsidiaries include the Bank of Oklahoma, Bank of Texas and Bank of Arkansas.
The holding company has 73 bank locations, including 25 in the Tulsa area and 27 in the Oklahoma City area. Other operating units include Alliance Securities Corp., Bank of Arkansas Mortgage Group, BOk Mortgage, BOk Trust, Bank of Texas Trust Co. and the TransFund Electronic Funds Transfer Network.
BOK wants investors to recognize its stock has value. Mr. White asserts that the company performs as well or better than 10 similar-size banking companies. BOK's stock has typically traded at about 15.5 times its trailing earnings, compared with peer banking companies that trade at more than 20 times earnings, Mr. White said.
"Our results have not fully registered in the market," he said.
Because of its size, "most people would write that it's attractive as a takeover," said Diana Yates, an analyst with A.G. Edwards in St. Louis. Mr. Kaiser, however, has consistently said the bank is not for sale. That, combined with its low volume of shares traded, is going to make BOK less attractive to investors, and therefore analysts, Ms. Yates said.
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