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Capital One: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Capital One Financial (COF - Get Report) was the winner among the largest U.S. financial companies on Monday, with shares rising 2% to close at $58.06.

The broad index retreated from earlier gains, although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 1%, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated the central bank's plan "to keep the short-term interest rate at exceptionally low levels to at least mid-2015," even though it "doesn't mean that we expect the economy to be weak through 2015."

Speaking at the Economic Club of Indiana in Indianapolis, Bernanke said that "so long as price stability is preserved, we will take care not to raise rates prematurely. Specifically, we expect that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economy strengthens."

While saying that economic uncertainty in Europe "is now part of the problem -- feeding into our financial variables," Bernanke said he was "confident Europeans will rise to the challenge."

The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) rose slightly to close at 49.71, with 13 of the 14 index components rising for the session.

Capital One's shares have now returned 38% year-to-date, following a flat return during 2011.

The shares trade for 1.6 times tangible book value, according to Thomson Reuters Bank Insight, and for eight times the consensus 2013 earnings estimate of $6.94 a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2012 EPS estimate is $6.16.

The consensus among analysts is for Capital One to report third-quarter earnings of $1.65 a share, increasing from 16 cents in the second quarter, when the company set aside special reserves for the $27 billion U.S. credit card portfolio it acquired from HSBC (HBC), and also agreed to pay $210 million in refunds and fines after entering into a settlement with regulators over the marketing of credit protection products. During the third quarter of 2011, the company earned $1.77 a share.

Oppenheimer Securities analyst Chris Kotowski rates Capital One "Outperform," with a 12 month to 18 month price target of $16, and said on Friday that "we made no changes to our COF model this quarter; the last two reported quarters have had lots of moving pieces with both the ING and HSBC card portfolio acquisitions closing," and that "we expect this quarter to give us a much clearer insight into the new COF since this is the first clean quarter we'll have."
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