4. First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG)
Buffalo, N.Y.-based First Niagara fell 4.9% from the May 5 close through Tuesday.
"It's consistently been viewed as more of a defensive stock because of the solid credit quality in the markets that it's in," says Damon DelMonte, analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, who rates the stock "outperform."However, two acquisitions the bank has made in the past year have roughly doubled the size of First Niagara's balance sheet, putting it in a position "to generate strong earnings momentum," DelMonte says. First Niagara bought Philadelphia-area bank Harleysville National Corp. for $237 million in July of last year, and it bought 57 branches from failed Ohio bank National City, as part of National City's sale to PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) in April 2009. Year-to-date, First Niagara shares are down about 7%, and sentiment on Wall Street is guardedly optimistic these days with six of the 10 analysts covering the stock at buy or strong buy, and the remaining 4 stuck on hold.
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