BankAtlantic sued Tampa Bay stock analyst Dick Bove and his firm, Ladenburg Thalmann, Monday, saying he misrepresented the bank's financial condition.
In the wake of the recent failure of California-based IndyMac, Bove published a report last week asking "Who is next?" He placed Fort Lauderdale's BankAtlantic in or near what he called the "danger zone," based on two ratios involving nonperforming assets, which include past-due loans and those in foreclosure.
BankAtlantic didn't say how it was harmed by the report, other than that "dozens of other analysts and commentators have picked up on the Bove 'analysis,' assumed its legitimacy, and passed it on to a growing audience on the Internet."
BankAtlantic Bancorp. stock had fallen from more than $9 to $1.20 before Bove's report, after which it fell to 90 cents. The stock closed Monday at $1.68, up 21 cents. BankAtlantic said Bove misrepresented the bank's health because he analyzed numbers for the bank holding company rather than the bank itself. BFC Financial Corp. owns 23 percent of BankAtlantic Bancorp, which in turn owns BankAtlantic.
In an addendum to his report, Bove said the bank's numbers look better by themselves because the holding company bought $100-million in nonperforming assets from the bank.
"We will defend ourselves against this meritless lawsuit," a Ladenburg Thalmann spokesman said. Bove declined to comment.