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KBW Downgrades Cullen/Frost (Update 2)

Despite caution "on share valuation over the next year as earnings decline," Gailey said he continues "to be impressed with the company's performance throughout this cycle and as of recent, and [believes] management is doing the right things."

Interested in more on Cullen/Frost? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock. U.S. Bancorp (USB) has also been a "strong and steady" earnings performer among regional banks over the past five years, with a return on average assets (ROA) staying above 1% all through the credit crisis, except for 2009, when the ROA was a still-decent 0.83%.

For the first three quarters of 2011, USB's ROA was 1.47%, according to SNL Financial. U.S. Bancorp's shares were flat year-to-date, closing at $26.50 on Tuesday. USB is currently paying a quarterly dividend of 13 cents, translating to a yield of 1.89%, but shareholders could see a dividend increase following the Federal Reserve's next round of stress tests in January."

On Wednesday, U.S. Bancorp announced it had purchased "the credit card assets of 28 financial institutions, in a portfolio comprising approximately $700 million of outstanding balances," from FIA Card Services, which is held by Bank of America (BAC).

Guggenheim Securities analyst Marty Mosby rates U.S. Bancorp a buy, with a price target of $30.50, saying on Nov. 14 that the Minneapolis lender "has a strong capital position and we believe it could deploy this capital in order to enhance shareholder value in several ways."

Interested in more on U.S. Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Another reliable earner among large regional banks has been Bank of Hawaii (BOH), with an ROA of 1.24% for the first three quarters of 2011. The ROA ranged from 1.22% to 1.84%, over the previous five years, through 2010.

Bank of Hawaii's shares closed at $43.47 Tuesday, for a year-to-date decline of 4%. Based on a quarterly payout of 45 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 4.14%.

Like Cullen/Frost and USB, Bank of Hawaii trades at a premium to many other large banks. The shares traded for twice their tangible book value, according to SNL Financial, and for over 13 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of $3.20, among analysts polled by FactSet.

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