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TheStreet Open House

Chill Pill for Long-Term Bank Stock Investors

Stocks in this article: BAC C JPM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Time to look in the mirror and consider what kind of investor you are.

The financial media are geared toward a day-trading viewpoint, with a constant stream of headlines to magnify any piece of information, big or small, into an earth-shattering event. That's pretty useless for long-term investors.

The fact of the matter is that nothing happened last week. The employment numbers didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. The economy is growing at a slow rate. A discredited ratings agency (Remember those triple-A ratings that they were paid to assign to some iffy mortgage-backed paper and the triple-A ratings for the insurers of those securities?) lowered its rating for U.S. debt.

Federal bank regulators quickly issued guidance to the industry that risk-based capital requirements would be unaffected by the rating downgrade.

If you are a long-term investor, consider just how much money you could have made if you went in during a time of maximum fear and had the guts to stay in.

KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) hit its credit-crisis day-end bottom on March 6, 2009, closing at 18.62. On that day, JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) closed at $15.93. Even after last week's nastiness -- with JPM pulling back 7% -- the shares closed at $37.60 on Friday. Although nobody times the market perfectly, the shares more than doubled in less than two and a half years.

A bet on the U.S. banking industry during the same period also would have turned out quite well, with the KBW Bank Index closing at 41.42 Friday.

Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) -- with the biggest regulatory target on its back and an $8.8 billion second-quarter loss -- returned 162% over the same period, through Friday's close at $8.17.

And we're not where we were in March 2009. Despite the slow growth rate, the economy is growing, and payrolls are increasing. Nearly all of the large banks have repaid government bailout funds and worked through a ton of problem loans, and JPMorgan is trading for just 1.2 times its tangible book value of $31.52, according to SNL Financial.

That's a very cheap valuation for a company that has been profitable every quarter for the past seven years.

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