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Now There’s an Idea

Yesterday, I slammed the folks who are jumping up and down yelling the economy is healthy because Citigroup was able to turn a profit after receiving billions upon of dollars in investments – dividend free – from the federal government.

Well, it looks like one New Mexico bank has figured out there are more traditional ways to return to profitability:

First State Bancorporation has decided federal help is unnecessary after all.

The Albuquerque-headquartered company announced Wednesday it has agreed to sell its Colorado bank branches to a South Dakota bank. The deal will generate $16 million in pre-tax profit and beef up First State’s balance sheet enough to eliminate any need to accept help from the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Wall Street applauded the deal. First State shares closed up 74 cents at $1.54, a 92.5 percent increase. The bank’s shares have traded for as little as 60 cents in recent weeks.

First State, which does business as First Community Bank, will focus its attention on its New Mexico market, which First State CEO Michael R. Stanford said “has significant growth potential and continues to outperform the nation as a whole in terms of (low) unemployment.”

Last year, the company abandoned the Utah market. It still operates in Arizona.

My hat’s off to Mike Stanford and Pat Dee. It’s nice to hear about a bank that’s not trying to be nationalized. And, speaking of strategies to make a profit, it looks like Steve McKee of McKee Wallwork Cleveland has his own ideas of how to deal with slowdowns:

At a time when business leaders are struggling with how they can return their companies to health in the midst of the worst recession in the post-war period, When Growth Stalls: How It Happens, Why You’re Stuck and What to Do About It, written by columnist and marketing expert Steve McKee, is a particularly relevant new book. When Growth Stalls (Jossey-Bass; March 2009; $27.95) explains how leaders can reclaim control of their companies at a time when layoffs at major corporations such as Microsoft, CitiGroup and GM have become everyday occurrences. Local news regarding Eclipse Aviation and Intel are classic examples, as well.

Over the past six years, McKee teamed with international research firm Decision Analyst to study some 700 corporations struggling with growth issues. Through a combination of quantitative analysis, personal consulting, and one-on-one interviews, McKee identified seven characteristics most commonly to blame for lingering poor performance. In recent months we have witnessed the effects of the external forces McKee identifies—recession, competition, and changing industry dynamics—on countless companies.

While economic events often bring companies down, it’s four subtle, internal factors that keep them down—while their leaders scratch their heads about why renewed growth remains elusive. When Growth Stalls presents McKee’s groundbreaking findings about these destructive internal dynamics.

Why I’m shamelessly plugging a competitor in the advertising business? Simple, Steve’s a good guy and a smart businessman, and I’ve never viewed advertising as a zero sum game. He’s doing a booksigning/meet the author event on Sunday, March 15, at 3pm at Bookworks, on Rio Grande. Go out and meet him.

I wonder if I can get a free book and a zero interest loan out of this post.