"Under-the-Radar Stocks" is a daily feature that uncovers little-known companies worthy of investors' consideration. Check in at 5 every morning to find out about stocks that tend to beat their bigger brethren.
After financial firms grabbed the spotlight at the beginning of the rally in March, technology stocks took over, leaving bank shares mired in uncertainty. Now, 10 large-cap companies, including JPMorgan (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) have received approval to repay funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, highlighting the stronger banks and putting investors' focus on financials once again.
Meanwhile, little-known companies are going unrecognized. Here are two micro-cap banks worthy of consideration that didn't require TARP money. And both have superior fundamentals.
Catskill, N.Y.-based Greene County Bancorp (GCBC) is a full-service bank offering retail, commercial, municipal and investment-management services in upstate New York. TheStreet.com Ratings upgraded the stock to "buy" in October, when the financial crisis was starting to mushroom. Since then, the company has maintained resilience in its asset quality. Fiscal third-quarter revenue, in the three months through March, increased 9.3% to $6.74 million, and earnings per share jumped 75%. Greene County's financial position remained strong, as reflected by a cash balance of $21.4 million and just $19 million of debt obligations. The shares are cheap on the basis of earnings, sales and cash flow in the thrifts and mortgage finance industry. With a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.4, Greene County is 63% cheaper than its average peer. The stock offers a dividend yield of 4.74%, well above the 3.2% average of the S&P 500 Index. Greene County has risen 37% this year, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq. German American Bancorp (GABC), based in Jasper, Ind., is another micro-cap powerhouse. The company sells commercial banking, mortgage banking, financial planning and insurance products and services. TheStreet.com has rated German American Bancorp "buy" since initiating coverage in June 2007. Like Greene County Bancorp, regional expertise makes this company a stand-out.
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