According to CBJ, First Trust's president, Jim Bolt, declined to comment, citing company policy not to discuss market speculation.
CBJ also noted that iinvestors, "clearly believe something is up. As of midday, nearly 55,000 shares had traded hands, which was highly unusual for a stock that on some days is not traded at all. The average daily volume for First Trust is 2,100 shares."
Despite all the activity the share price was up only 2.2%, to $4.60.
First Trust, founded in 1999, has two branches in Charlotte and one in the suburbs. It earned $2.4 million last year and is very well capitalized, though it has struggled with credit quality issues. At Dec. 31, more than 10% of its loans were at least 90 days past due, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.
First Trust has been on and off the ropes with bad loans since late 2009, and now has apparently thrown in the proverbial towel, and will merge or be aquired by Charlotte's Park Sterling Bank.
Park Sterling Bank operates 24 branches throughout North and South Carolina and yesterday reported net income of $2.4 million, or $0.07 per share, for the three months ended March 31, 2012. First Trust has not yet reported tMarch 31, 2012 numbers.
Terms of the rumored merger are unknown at this time, however the stock has climbed out of a basement low of around $1.95 last October to a $4.85 close on Tuesday afternoon.