|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • PremierWest shares above the $1 mark

    Friday's closing could put company back in NASDAQ's good graces
  • Shares of PremierWest Bancorp closed above the $1 mark Friday for the first time since Feb. 1, perhaps signaling a trend that could assure the Medford-based company's stock will continue to be traded on the NASDAQ stock market.
    • email print
  • Shares of PremierWest Bancorp closed above the $1 mark Friday for the first time since Feb. 1, perhaps signaling a trend that could assure the Medford-based company's stock will continue to be traded on the NASDAQ stock market.
    The surge capped the heaviest trading week in PremierWest's history as nearly 11 percent of its shares exchanged hands. The stock price shot up 15.8 percent to $1.10 as 10,967,687 shares were traded.
    "Our shareholders are expressing confidence," PremierWest Bank President Jim Ford said.
    Although shares topped the $1 mark during inter-day trading earlier this week, they finished those sessions below the pivotal plateau.
    NASDAQ informed PremierWest Bancorp on March 15 that it was out of compliance. The letter told PremierWest that its stock needed to close above $1 for 10 consecutive sessions during the next 180 days in order to return to the exchange's good graces.
    Friday's closing price above $1 was the first time the company's shares eclipsed that mark since it received NASDAQ's notification.
    PremierWest shares twice closed as low as 45 cents during March, but never sank to the 44 cents-per-share level the company offered first to its directors and officers and then to the public.
    "People were buying stock for more than the rights offer and that baffles us," Ford admitted, but he took it as a sign of better things to come.
    "Our secondary phase to individuals was driven by a large number of mom-and-pop investors. We had people who wandered into the bank, called or e-mailed about making purchases rather than buy them on the open market. I assumed the stock price would find its market balance."
    PremierWest shares hit an all-time high of $16.25 on March 16, 2006 and were at $13.97 on June 22, 2007 before the collapsing real estate market, both in Oregon and Northern California, began eating away at the company's bottom line.
    "Ultimately, we want to see the shares go higher," Ford said. "A lot of shareholders have bought at $3, $5 or $10 and need to see the price go back up. That will come with consistent earnings and an improving economy. Our goal is not to do more or less in any of our markets, but to remain consistent in all of our markets."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar