MINNEAPOLIS ( Stockpickr) -- Banking stocks have been lagging the market in 2011. Concerns about a double-dip recession, a second financial crisis triggered by defaulted debt in Europe, and residual issues from the weak housing market have investors in banks skittish.
The headline concerns are indeed frightening, and should they materialize, it could decimate the value of banks across the board. That said, there are strong factors helping to support the sector, including the Fed's easy money policy. The game plan is to make it as easy as possible for banks to make a profit.
The theory is that profits will stabilize balance sheets. Investors are not convinced. For example, Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) is getting crushed in 2011. Shares are down about 23% this year and falling. The company continues to struggle with foreclosures, short sales, mortgage servicing and modifications stemming from its ill-fated acquisition of Countrywide Mortgage. The speculation by the bears is that BofA will need to beef up its balance sheet by offering more shares and in so doing will dilute current shareholder value.
Related: 5 Big Stocks to Trade for GainsIt has been a veritable mess for sure, but I would not bet against banks. The Treasury and the central bank are powerful institutions that usually get their way. It may take time, but these banks will ultimately survive and thrive. Some of the best bargains in the banking sector come from the regional banking space. Here are five names to consider.