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5 Banks to Consider as Options Plays

Stocks in this article: SPY BAC C JPM WFC MS USB

C Chart C data by YCharts

Citigroup (C)

Citi is connected to everyone and is "too big to fail." It's the "too big to fail" part that makes Citi attractive to me. I have invested in Citi several times in the past three years and believe now may be another good time to gain exposure.

Book Value: $62.72

The trailing 12 month price-to-earnings ratio says it all when it comes to pricing in growth. The trailing earnings multiple is 8 and the forward estimate multiple drops down to 7.5. Drops in earnings multiples happen when investors become skittish about the future earnings of a company.

Considering Citi (and others) likely spend as much time in court fighting lawsuits as in the office driving new business, I am not surprised the earnings multiple is as low as it is.

Citi's yield isn't much better than investing your money inside a savings account at Citi, but there are reasons why you should consider exposure despite the headwinds the bank faces.

Analysts like Citi. Over half the analysts that follow currently rate the stock a buy. Short sellers are not pushing each other out of the way to short shares at the current price.

Short interest in Citi is near 2%, and we can assume some of it is from hedging activities and not straight bearish positions. Unless a new shoe drops on Citi and or the financial sector, there is no reason why shorts will become aggressive either.

The November $32 strike calls can be sold for about $1.15. With a current stock price of $29.75, the maximum possible return is $3.40 for a gain of 11.9% in less than 80 days. The maximum risk is $28.60 per share.

I use SEC.gov, Zacks.com, WSJ.com, Tradestation, and Reuters for my data. P/E is generally adjusted P/E based on an average number of shares.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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