) to hold from buy.
Analyst Richard Weiss says he believes price appreciation of approximately 18% since late January, 2004, is attributable to the pickup in merger activity in the banking industry. He thinks it's highly unlikely that Northwest will be acquired, and sees the company as a conservatively managed institution that could remain in a mutual holding company structure for quite some time.
Weiss continues to believe Northwest will maintain its track record of steady earnings growth, strategic acquisitions, and low operating risk. He sees $1.02 fiscal 2004 (June) earnings per share, and $1.12 in fiscal 2005. He's keeping his $26 12-month target.