Tickers in this Article: MTB, NYSE:BRK.A, FFIC, ASRV, PBKS
With the advent of the global financial juggernaut of the last half century, it was widely believed that local thrifts and community savings banks would go the way of the dodo. But it was not to be. In fact, the recent economic crisis has pointed to the opposite conclusion: the global mega-players were in far deeper waters than their locally-oriented counterparts. Below, we highlight three small operators with reasonable fundamentals and a good dividend to boot.

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Western New York is Buffett Territory
M&T Bank Corporation (NYSE:MTB) may be most famous as a holding of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), Warren Buffett's investment fund, which owns nearly 7 million shares of the company (6%). But for the average investor, too, there's something to mull over here.

Start with a dividend yield of 5% and a price-to-book value of just 0.96. Move next to M&T Bank's average annual earnings growth of 10.2% over the last decade. Cap it off with a near 70% rise in the share price since March of this year, and altogether M&T looks very attractive.

The bank also just completed its acquisition of Provident Bankshares Corporation, adding $6.5 billion to its asset base and expanding from its Western New York area of operations into the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

A Lesser Sized Outfit in Greater New York
Flushing Financial Corporation (Nasdaq:FFIC) shares now pay investors a 5.7% annual yield and are priced with an enviable P/E of just 9.03x last year's earnings. The company, which serves essentially as a retail community savings bank for Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and NassauCounty, was recently ranked the number one thrift institution in the United States by SNL Financial, an independent analyst of financial institutions around the world.

Flushing Financial trades with an extraordinarily low price-to-book ratio of 0.64 and shares are up more than 125% since bottoming in March.

Johnstown Bankers Stay Afloat
AmeriServ Financial Corp. (Nasdaq:ASRV) is another local bank and trust outfit that sports eye-catching fundamentals. The annual dividend yield is currently a rich 5.78% and the shares are valued at 0.90x last year's sales and a mere 0.30x book value.

In the last two months, five company insiders from this Johnstown, Pennsylvania banking operation have made nine separate purchases of AmeriServ stock. There is record of only one insider sell transaction in that period. ASRV is up 20% in the last four months.

The Wrap
The little guy is not dead yet - at least in the financial world. On the contrary, local banking operators are proving themselves leaner, more profitable and better run than a great many global mega-players. Investors considering the sector might begin their search with any of the above three mentioned issues. (To learn more, check out The Industry Handbook: The Banking Industry.)

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