Not too long ago, Minneapolis-based US Bancorp (USB) was held up as an example of a ‘good bank’ with a strong loan portfolio. As recently as September, the stock was trading as high as 42 and the bank was widely hailed as one of the few national banks that was gaining ground on weaker competitors. On January 21, however, the bank announced a 65% drop in earnings as a result of a deteriorating loan portfolio and securities losses, and the story began to unravel.
In reviewing the performance of bank stocks over the course of the past week, I was surprised to see that among large banks, US Bancorp has been the worst performer of all. The chart below shows the earnings-related 52-week low from January 21 was taken out decisively yesterday, following a week of heavy volume in which the stock lost a third of its value.
While investors are watching Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) closely for signs of weakness, perhaps US Bancorp and the regional banks are better indicators of what is going on in the banking landscape than their quasi-governmental big brothers.