Monte N. Redman is the president and chief operating officer...

Monte N. Redman is the president and chief operating officer of Astoria Financial Corp., parent company of Astoria Federal Savings. Credit: Newsday, 2008 / Jim Peppler

Shares of Astoria Financial, one of the biggest banking companies on Long Island, are trading lower Friday after a report from Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock from hold to sell.

Stock for the Lake Success-based company is currently trading at around $9.42 per share, down around 5.71 percent from the open.

The Stifel Nicolaus report pointed to the bank's weakening balance sheet as profits decreased.

On Wednesday, Astoria Financial reported second-quarter earnings of 13 cents per share on profit of $12.8 million, which was a 23.8 percent drop from the same period last year.

Astoria Financial chief executive Monte Redmon said Wednesday that the yearly comparisons this quarter can be misleading because the bank is transitioning its lending focus to multifamily residential and commercial mortgages. But the Stifel Nicolaus report said the multifamily residential program only makes up 17 percent of the bank's assets and may not be able to contribute significantly to profits in the future.

The company operates 85 branches of the Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Above: Monte N. Redman is the president and chief operating officer of Astoria Financial Corp., parent company of Astoria Federal Savings.

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