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Bank of Granite stocks still high, merger rumors persist

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100302.mp3

Investors are still bullish on stock for a struggling regional bank based in Granite Falls, just north of Hickory. Bank of Granite continues to trade at more than 3 times what it averaged last fall. WFAE's Julie Rose has more. In November, NASDAQ threatened to delist Bank of Granite because its stock was so low - around 40 or 50 cents a share, and it had been that way for months. But ever since January, it's been trading closer to a $1.50, and at times over $2 a share. NASDAQ now says Bank of Granite is back in compliance, but there's still trouble on the horizon. The FDIC has ordered Bank of Granite to improve its capital and get loan losses under control. Rumors the bank was on the brink of being acquired are what first drove the stock price up in January. UNC Charlotte finance expert Tony Plath says a deal is still likely, it's just taking longer than people expected because there may be multiple suitors. "The attractiveness of the franchise and, you know, the fact that it is an old-line historical financial institution, that could bring out more than one of the regional banks in the Carolinas market that would have an interest," says Plath. "And that could be delaying the announcement of the deal." Until then, Plath says investors will probably keep the bank's stock up, since a merger would be much better for them than having the bank taken over by the FDIC. Thus far, Bank of Granite executives are mum on a possible acquisition. But more details on the bank's health will become clear when it reports annual earnings on March 31.