NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Among the ten most actively traded bank stocks trading below book value, there are many stocks that should be avoided, but also several good plays on the coming recovery and one screaming buy.
During "normal times" (remember those?) if you were considering a group of bank stocks, bargains would include profitable banks with decent asset quality trading below two times tangible book value, while bank holding companies with strong earnings growth, a low-risk business model or an attractive dividend payout might trade much higher. Looking back to the bottom of the market in March 2009, it was very easy to find decent names among bank stocks selling below book value. The story has changed now, but there are still a few left.
A bank holding company's tangible book value is its total common equity capital less goodwill, mortgage servicing rights, deferred tax assets, and other intangible assets. As one might expect at this point in the industry recovery, trading far below book is usually a sign of serious problems and danger for investors -- including potential dilution of common shares -- but some of the following names are in a sweet spot right now.
South Financial Group Inc. (TSFG) of Greenville, S.C. would have made the list since the shares closed at 27 cents or 0.17 times tangible book value on Thursday, but the holding company agreed on May 17 to be acquired by TD Bank (TD).Here are the most actively-traded bank stocks selling below book value as of Thursday's close according to SNL Financial, with the cheapest listed first. Hang in there, the more attractive names are toward the end of the list: