Stock shares for Corona-based Vineyard National Bancorp (NASDAQ: VNBC) were downgraded to “sell” from “hold” status at about 9:20 a.m. (PST) by Sandler O’Neill + Partners, L.P. in New York.
The bank is the holding company for Vineyard Bank, which has branches across San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Here is some information on Vineyard published in my Sunday story:
In light of Vineyard’s financial worries, the bank has hired a financial adviser to help it explore strategic options for raising capital.
The bank also announced Friday the termination of its executive vice president and chief lending officer, Michael Cain, while also eliminating the position of chief lending officer.
A bitter proxy battle has recently catapulted Vineyard into the spotlight as former CEO Norman Morales tries to gain control.
Morales, who resigned in January, was given the green light in April by an independent inspector to nominate his very own hand-picked board-of-director candidates at the company’s upcoming annual meeting.
Tension is building as stakeholders wait for the annual meeting date to be announced after Vineyard’s 10K – sometimes referred to as an annual report – is filed with securities regulators.
To make things worse, Vineyard reported so much in loan losses the last two quarters that it’s suspending its stock dividends “for the foreseeable future,” according to a May 1 financial statement.
“Nasdaq has begun preliminary proceedings about possibly delisting the stock,” said Joe Morford, analyst with RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco. “It’s worth citing as a risk.”
He wouldn’t be surprised if Vineyard records even more loan losses this year. And contrary to Eggemeyer’s opinion, Morford said the bank’s leaders are probably exploring buyout options.
“They’re trying to deal with exposure to the (construction and real-estate) markets, which on a percentage base is larger than most banks,” Morford added.
Here are the historical upgrades and downgrades on Vineyard National Bancorp (VNBC) by various financial research analysts, according to Yahoo Finance at http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ud?s=VNBC:
|2-Oct-06||RBC Capital Mkts||Downgrade||Outperform||Sector Perform|
|2-Oct-06||Merriman Curhan Ford||Initiated||Buy|