Bank Stocks Insiders Are Still Buying

Includes: BAC, HBAN
by: Bret Jensen

It has been a busy week and I am just now finally getting around to reading through this weekend's Barron's. One of the sections I always glance at is the magazine's Top 20 insider buys of the week. I especially think it's important now as after the last six months of the rally, insider buying is down substantially from where it was a half year ago. This lends greater credence to insiders still buying their own shares in my opinion.

I could not help but notice that 9 of the top 20 buys this week occurred within the Financial sector including a half dozen banks. This makes some sense as the Financial sector has underperformed the overall market so far in 2013. In addition, the continued housing recovery should buoy banks' balance sheets and profits from mortgage activity. Here are two banks that are in my own portfolio that have also had recent insider buying activity.

Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ:HBAN) - Myriad insiders have snapped up some 90,000 shares since late February including a couple of purchases in late April. I have owned and written about the shares since early 2012 when they were trading at $5 a share. They are now trading at $7 a share and still have upside. The shares yield just under three percent (2.8%), sell for 10x forward earnings and are just 10% over book value. The company has beat earnings estimates each of the last five quarters. In addition, S&P has its highest rating "Strong Buy" on the shares and a $9 price target on HBAN.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) - Another bank stock I have held since early in 2012 when it was trading at just over $5 a share. It has been one of the best performers in my portfolio since then, delivering an approximate 140% return over the past 16 months. The shares still have upside as they are one of the cheapest major banks based on book value (61%). A director recently bought 20,000 shares. It was the first insider purchase in 2013.

One of the interesting things about the insiders during this huge run over the last year and a half is that there has been next to no insider selling. BAC sells at less than 9.5x 2014's projected earnings, and this is on a ROA (return on assets) of less than 30 basis points which gives it huge upside should it ever be able to get back to a more normalized 100 basis points which was the normalized return prior to the financial crisis. It also should be able to institute substantial dividend payouts in 2014.

Disclosure: I am long BAC, HBAN. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.