By Gene Kirsch, Senior Banking Analyst, WeissRatings.com
With the success of our first portfolio of undervalued domestic bank stocks and the turnaround in the banking sector in general, a new, more stringent set of criteria was used to identify the next list of undervalued U.S. bank stocks. All stocks in the new portfolio meet or exceed the minimum criteria outlined last month.
Other selection criteria include comparing several ratios among the banks: price to book, price to tangible book, current price to 52-week high, forecasted EPS and price target. The table below represents the best selections of all 1,159 publicly traded U.S. banks.
1Weiss Financial Strength rating is based on Q2 2012 data; A=Excellent; B=Good; C=Fair; D=Weak;
E=Very Weak; Plus sign=top of grade range; Minus sign=bottom of grade range
2JPMorgan Chase & Co. has a financial strength rating of B- (GOOD) despite the operating company's
rating of D+ (Weak)
The value of the basket of 10 stocks is basically flat, down just 0.58 percent for the first month on increased average 30-day volume of 27.4 million shares, up 2.39 percent.
It is still reasonable to expect that the returns of this new basket will exceed the broader market and banking benchmarks, all of which were also down in November. The S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE), which contains many of the largest U.S. regional banks, was the best performing index -- down just 0.11 percent. The worst performer was the broader S&P Banking Index, a basket of all banks in the S&P 500 Index, which was down 1.67 percent.
After one month, six of the 10 banks are still up despite the tough economic environment and the threat of the fiscal cliff. The stellar performers in the group were Bank of America Corp. (BAC), up 8.55 percent, and to a lesser degree, Regions Financial Corp. (RF), up 1.67 percent, and SunTrust Banks, Inc. (STI), up 1.40 percent. The biggest loser of the group was PNC Financial Services Group (PNC), which was down 3.48 percent.
Of the five holdovers from the first portfolio (in bold print above), three of the five were up in the first month of this new portfolio: Bank of America Corp. , KeyCorp (KEY) and SunTrust Banks, Inc.
None of the banks in this list have reached either their 12-month price target or book value. Although all banks are still an exceptional value, some of the best values are JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C) and PNC Financial Services Group, which are only at 68 percent, 69 percent and 74 percent of their price targets, respectively. The current average stock price in the portfolio is at 77 percent of the group's aggregate price target. So, there is still some room for price appreciation in the portfolio going forward -- even more so, if you consider the group's aggregate price to book ratio is only 73 percent.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.