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Tickers in this Article: BAC, WFC, JPM, SPY, XLF
The biggest companies in the financial sector just happen to be at or near 52 week highs. That's been a constant theme this past year. It's been a manic year for the sector, having risen from its March 2009 bottom almost 160%, as measured by the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLF). Compared to the broad market, the financials outperformed in dramatic fashion. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) managed a gain of 70% over that period. Below, we list the sector's largest trio of companies, each with a market cap in excess of $150 billion and each of which also happens to be a bank.

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The Biggest (Meanest?) Bank of them All
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) is America's biggest financial outfit, weighing in at a hefty $180 billion. Much of the company's current stature is attributable to their acquisition of brokerage house Merrill Lynch & Co. last year.

In the last twelve months, BAC stock rose 155% and year-to-date the stock has managed a nearly 20% gain. The company pays a nominal $0.01 dividend and trades without a price/earnings ratio, as one-year trailing earnings are still negative. Last week, Bank of America was sued for allegedly withholding TARP funds intended to assist homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

Positive Earnings
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is the country's second biggest financial operation, carrying a market capitalization of better than $177 billion. In the last year, J.P. Morgan stock was up a solid 60%.

JPM shares now trade with a dividend yield of 0.45% and sport a multiple of 20 times last year's earnings, which were, incidentally, up 178% over the prior year's numbers. Price to book on the shares is 1.12 and price to sales is 1.76.

Another Acquisitive Banking Giant
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) rounds out the financial behemoths trio with a market cap of just over $160 billion, much of which came after the company's successful acquisition of Wachovia Corporation in 2009.

Wells Fargo put on 117% in the last twelve months and now trades with a P/E of 17.5. The annual yield on the stock is a minuscule 0.65%.

The Wrap:
The financial sector has been the unchallenged mover this past year, as perhaps could be expected due to the washout they experienced the year prior. That said, improving economic conditions could continue to spur this sector to even higher highs. (To Learn more, see The Industry Handbook: The Banking Industry.)

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