) to buy from sell, citing the view that the company's business fundamentals will begin to improve in 2006.
Analyst Mike Diana lifted his $15.50 target to $19, citing reasons such as the company's net interest margin expansion post-first quarter 2006 (due in part to pending acquisitions and the end of Fed rate hikes.) He says there is potential positive competitive impact from the sale of rival Independence Community Bank (ICBC
) to Sovereign Bancorp (SOV
). He sees the possibility of New York Community Bancorp being bought or making additional accretive acquisitions. He also sees the company's healthy dividend appealing to certain investors and providing downside protection.