Ten years ago, there were more than 11,000 commercial banks. After more than 6000 mergers, 2000 new reporters, and 700 failures, we're left with about 6200 commercial banks.
It's a good bet the trend will continue. Banking is becoming more regulated, escalating the cost of doing business. Lots of banks are on the prowl: U.S. Bancorp (USB), BB&T Corp (BBT), New York Community Bank (NYCB) to name a few. Recently M&T Bank (MTB) bought Hudson City Bank.
So who's up for sale? No bank ever puts out a For Sale sign.
So let's speculate. Could the next bank to get scooped up be S.Y. Bancorp (SYBT), the holding company of Stockyards Bank & Trust? This is bank has branches in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio and has a $300 market cap.
The reason: Insiders are buying Stockyards. They are not just buying once or twice. They have been consistently purchasing stock every two or three weeks during the last 2 years. And it is not one or two buyers. Multiple insiders are making buys: For example, eight directors bought on October 23; nine directors bought on October 1; eight directors bought on September 24. Over the last 12 months, key insiders have increased their stock position over 10%.
It seems like every time a Stockyard director gets a buck he purchases stock. There have been over 300 separate buys during the last 2 years.
Compare stock buying over the last 2 years at JP Morgan (JPM) - only Jamie Dimon; at USB - 5 buys; at Wells Fargo Bank (WFC) - 8 buys; at Bank of the Ozark (OZRK) - 6 buys; at Bank of New York (BK) - no buys.
And if Stockyards doesn't get acquired? Then the insider buys suggest good things ahead. The stock pays a 3.22% dividend. PE is 13; Price/Tangible Book is 1.7.
Stockyards is a conservative way to speculate on the banking recovery. Consistent insider buying suggests Stockyards has a bright future regardless of M&A activity.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in SYBT over the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: Disclaimer: The opinions in this document are for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the stocks mentioned. Past performance of the companies discussed may not continue and the companies may not achieve the earnings growth as predicted. The information in this document is believed to be accurate, but under no circumstances should a person act upon the information contained within. We do not recommend that anyone act upon any investment information without first consulting an investment advisor as to the suitability of such investments for his specific situation.