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5 Cheapest Bank Stocks Under $5

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Following a year that saw many bank stocks on the road to recovery there are some that continue to trade under $5, which look like a steal when priced to forward earnings estimates.

Investors remained skittish after a very painful 2008, but there was plenty of money to be made on bank stocks trading below $5. Huntington Bancshares (HBAN), for example, closed at $4.33 on January 11, 2010, rising 66% to close at $7.12 Tuesday. Two of the companies discussed below also had very strong double-digit returns over the same period, were still priced below $5 on Tuesday and have further upside based on consensus price targets.

Using data provided by SNL Financial, we started with 288 publicly traded banks and thrifts trading below $5 - excluding those traded on the Pink Sheets - we narrowed down the list to 36 with three-month average daily trading volume exceeding 50,000 shares. We then pared the list further to the five names trading at the lowest multiple to the consensus 2011 earnings estimates among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, making sure each company was covered by at least three analysts.

Here they are, ranked by descending forward P/E based on the 2011 earnings estimates:

Terms

For each of the 10 banks discussed on the following pages, we'll be looking at capital strength, earnings quality and asset quality. For an explanation of those terms you can click on the box below.

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