But a bank like HomeStreet can start doing fill-in acquisitions.
I am more interested in banks like First Horizon (FHN), Key (KEY), Synovus (SNV) and Regions (RF). These are all banks that were hobbled during the great recession and are scrubbed clean, but have not yet turned on the lending jets as HomeStreet has. Remember the economics of banks. Net interest margins go down if banks just sit on the cash. They can go up if the banks lend and if interest rates go higher those loans can reset.
So, let's take a bank like Regions. It could provide a terrific buy for Comerica (CMA) or PNC (PNC), banks that need to start expanding again lest they continue to fall out of favor with the analysts even as they do not come down on the myriad downgrades. I know the Street has turned on KEY, an Action Alerts PLUS name, but there's so much that the bank can do to bring out value, including sell its considerable Northwest franchise to HomeStreet. Of course, BB&T (BBT) can turn around and buy First Horizon tomorrow.
One other thing to keep in mind. BBVA (BBVA) owns a remarkable franchise in Compass, which has filled a banking vacuum as you can see from Morgan Stanley's timely upgrade this morning. BBVA remains a terrific stock to own as a way to play the rebound in Spain, but it can also afford to acquire First Horizon or Synovus or Regions and get that growth going. Banco Santander would like to spin off its U.S. business to raise cash and it, too, is a natural acquirer.As the financial hit four-year highs the signs are clear. More lending's coming, so the banks that were passed by as Wells Fargo bulked up are now ready to acquire and be acquired. The fact that Key or First Horizon has not been nicked even by multiple downgrades speaks volumes for what is about to occur. Takeovers galore in the bank patch. A necessity and an opportunity. Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long KEY.
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