3 Regional Banks for $15 or Less That Look Like Good Long-Term Buys

by: Bret Jensen

The market finally had a sustainable rally on Tuesday. However, the financials continued to underperform as they have throughout the year. As the market pullbacks amid fears of an economic slowdown, is it time to start to nibble on some beaten down financial stocks? Here are three regional banks worth considering as long term plays on the eventual recovering in the economy and hopefully one day the housing market.

Huntington Bancshares (NASDAQ:HBAN) - Huntington Bancshares Incorporated operates as the holding company for the Huntington National Bank that provides commercial and consumer banking services. It offers deposit products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, interest bearing and non-interest bearing demand deposits, time deposits, money market deposits and brokered deposits and negotiable certificate of deposits. The company's loan portfolio comprises home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer installment loans, small business loans, automobile loans and leases, residential mortgage loans, commercial and industrial loans and leases and commercial real estate loans.

Valuation and Price Targets – HBAN sells for under 12 times expected 2011 earnings of 58 cents and less than 10 times 2012's consensus of 68 cents. It has had significant insider buying recently and a high capital tier ratio for a regional bank. Its operating margin is significantly better than two of its key competitors, Fifth Third (NASDAQ:FITB) and Keycorp (NYSE:KEY). It pays a tiny dividend of 4 cents a share but that should increase substantially as it recovers from the crisis. Before the crisis, HBAN regularly traded in the 20's. Price targets are $9 at Credit Suisse and both S&P and Jefferies are at $8 on HBAN, which is currently trading at $6.29.

New York Community Bancorp (NYB) - New York Community Bancorp, Inc. operates as a multi-bank holding company for New York Community Bank and New York Commercial Bank, which offers banking products and services in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Arizona. It primarily engages in generating deposits and originating loans. The company's deposit products include checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, NOW and money market accounts and non-interest-bearing demand deposit accounts. Its lending portfolio comprises one- to four-family loans; multi-family loans; commercial real estate loans; acquisition, development and construction loans; commercial and industrial loans; and consumer loans.

Valuation and Price Targets – NYB is selling for less than 13.5 times this year's expected earnings and under 12 times 2012's consensus EPS. It provides a robust dividend yield of 6.5%. Although it has not raised its dividend since 2004, it never lowered its dividend payout during the financial crisis. It is selling at the bottom of its five year valuation based on cash flow. Given the improving NYC economy, low valuations and huge dividend; NYB seems a safe if unexciting pick in this space. It goes for $15.65 a share. Price targets are at $19 a share at Credit Suisse and S&P is at $17.

Peoples United Financial (NASDAQ:PBCT) – People's United Financial, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for People's United Bank that provides commercial banking, retail and business banking and wealth management services to individual, corporate and municipal customers. Its Commercial Banking segment provides commercial and industrial lending, commercial real estate lending and commercial deposit gathering services, as well as equipment financing, cash management, correspondent banking and municipal banking services.

Valuation and Price Targets – PBCT sells at approximately 20 times this year's earnings but only 15 times next year's consensus. It does yield almost 5% in dividends, putting a good floor under the stock price. It also should also have double digit gains in revenue growth for both 2011 and 2012. Its future growth should be fueled by some recent strategic acquisitions that PBCT is currently integrating, a solid balance sheet and growing market share in the Northeast. It is selling near the bottom of its five year valuation range based on P/B, P/S and P/CF. PBCT is selling at $12.84. S&P's price target is currently at $17.

Disclosure: I am long HBAN, NYC.

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