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Tickers in this Article: MTB, FCNCA, XLF, SPY, BRK.A
Amid the broad market's pullback, there have been losers big and small, and no one sector has managed to buck the downtrend outright. Not least the financials, which are down marginally since the beginning of the year (2%), as measured by the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE: XLF) and down 15% since peaking in late April, when the correction began. For the sake of comparison, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY), a proxy for the S&P 500, is down 6% since New Year's and 13% since its late April high. And yet there are financials setting 52-week highs amid the carnage on the exchanges. Below we list two of them, both banks, complete with all the seminal valuation readings.

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A Cash Flow First
First Citizens Bancshares
(Nasdaq: FCNCA) is a full-service retail operation with branches that span the continental U.S. The company's shares are up better than 18% on the year after pulling back from new highs set just last week. The $2 billion company by market cap trades with a P/E ratio of just 9.3 and pays a nominal 0.62% annual yield. For the year, First Citizens' stock is up more than 44%.

FCNCA recently reported cash flow per share of $16.87, one of the highest readings among all banking stocks. More than 35% of the company's float is owned by professional investors.

Warren's Bank
M&T Bank Corp. (NYSE: MTB) is another financial sector standout that recently hit 52-week highs. The stock carries a dividend yield of 3.2% and trades at a multiple of 24.2 times last year's earnings. For the year 2010, MTB is up 29%, and over the last 12 months it has risen 70%.

M&T Bank operates east of the Mississippi and is also one of Warren Buffett's holdings in his Berkshire Hathaway investment portfolio (NYSE: BRK.A). As at last reporting, Buffett's holdings in the stock numbered around 5 million shares for a total value in excess of $385 million. (Learn more; see Why Warren Buffett Envies You.)

Earlier this month, M&T Bank earned approval from Canadian regulatory agencies to open commercial operations in that country.

The Wrap
The financials may be in a death spiral, but apparently some outfits are looking clean and profitable, and the market is rewarding them appropriately. The two issues focused on here give every investor good reason to reconsider the age-old question of whether he is investing in a "stock market" or a market of stocks.

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