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Why The Big Banks Offer A Good Risk-to-reward Play

The sub-prime credit crisis that surfaced in 2008 drove Lehman Brothers to bankruptcy, caused significant upheaval, and drove the U.S. and global economy into a recession. The aftermath was a structural change to the way banks do business, specifically the amount of risk that is assumed by a bank via sophisticated strategies. So far, the change coined the "Volcker Rule," set in place by economist and ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, appears to be capping the speculative trades made by the banks, which is good.

Banks have altered the way they do business and have shown positive strides along the way. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE/JPM), the first of the major bank stocks to report earnings, blew away revenues and earnings estimates. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE/WFC) beat on earnings but fell slightly short of estimates despite an eight percent year-over-year increase. In the case of JPMorgan, the recovery in the housing market and the demand for mortgages helped drive revenues. (Source: "Mortgage boom leads to profit surge for JPMorgan, Wells," Yahoo! Finance, October 12, 2012.)

In my view, the results are fairly good for the two bank stocks, and they indicate that the banks are able to grow their business volumes across the board despite the mixed economic recovery in the U.S. And with the housing market and economy continuing to improve, I feel bank stocks will as well.

The majority of the big banks have paid back part or all of their government loans. Bank stocks are showing promise, and expectations are the third-quarter earnings season will provide some upside surprises. Of course, the impact from the stalled European economies is a wildcard. Read More

By Investment Contrarians

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