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Cramer: Favor the Regionals Over the Big Banks

Stocks in this article: BAC C KEY PNC BBT

Wells Fargo being more of a regional money center, but it is a money center, and into a company like PNC (PNC), which didn't even have a good quarter, but the stock is flying. BB&T (BBT) had very big compression net interest margins, but the stock is flying. I don't think Key is going to have a compression net interest margin. Key's going to be blessed on all cases, but this is where the action is. It's time. You're in Citi, you have had a big gain, time to go. You're in Bank of America, you've had a big gain, cut it in half. You find a regional you're comfortable with, OK? Huntington Bank (HBAN), Key, BBT, First Horizon (FHN), ticker FHN, you find a regional you're comfortable with and you buy it right here, right now.

Lindsey Bell:

And just quickly, though, on Citi, this was the first quarter ...

Jim Cramer: Unfathomable, frankly.

Lindsey Bell:

... with CEO Michael Corbat at the helm. How long do you think before we start to ...

Jim Cramer:

Well, I mean, here's the problem with Citi. They've got a couple of components. A lot of moving parts.

You've got the Citi Holdings. I keep waiting for that to be gone or be brought back on to the balance sheet, because it's good, which is what I thought would eventually be happening and that's not happening. You have this great emphasis on emerging markets. Emerging markets have finally come back to life. In the interim, Citi spent a fortune becoming the king of emerging markets. Then, at the exact bottom of what I think's going to be the emerging market cycle, they fired former CEO Vikram Pandit who designed this. They decide to go with a traditional commercial banker as the new CEO, which is good, because commercial banking is going to become ascendant, as I mentioned in the regionals.

My problem is that this was an emerging market play, not a bank play, so I got to start putting it through the prism of banks. I don't even like it as much of a bank play. As an emerging market play, I liked it. So I was a believer in Pandit's strategy. Maybe he wasn't executing well, but that was a gaining factor. All the other banks are largely domestic. This is 65% international, but they've decided, I think, to say, hey, you know, we're pulling back, just when they should be going forward with the emerging market strategy. I think that Pandit may have been the wrong man because they couldn't return capital under the regulators, but the strategy was a good one. I'd hate to see them back away from it. Citigroup is unfathomable if they are backing away from it.

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