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Melvin: Small Bank Stocks to Buy Now

Stocks in this article: HFBCMFSFNFBKSMPLCBNJ

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 3 p.m. EDT on Real Money on Aug. 2. To see Tim Melvin's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.

NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- I have often heard that the best way to hear from old friends and relatives is to hit the lottery. I have found another way to spark conversations from folks you haven't heard from in a while: Writing a column expressing a negative or cautious opinion on the stock market. It brings people out of the woodwork.

Some just wanted to let me know how foolish I was for not being fully and aggressively invested in a zero-interest-rate world and lots wanted to know what few stocks I was buying. I think I've covered the second question over the past two days, and while I appreciate the intentions of the first group, I will stick with my concerns.

Staying cautious and holding lots of cash just seems to make more sense to me than dancing with the margin clerk or being exposed to a permanent loss of capital.

The third group's question was simply what about small banks. Is the trade of the decade still one? Are you cutting back on these stocks?

The simple answer here is that no, I am not cutting back and the trade of the decade is still very much a go. I have lost a few bank stocks to M&A activity over the past few years, but I have not actually sold a single small bank share for fundamental reasons. If I ever do sell a bank stock that I have suggested on Real Money, it will be stated in either Columnist Conversation or a column.

Older portfolios of bank stocks are currently carrying about a 20% to 25% cash level. Most of the small banks that I want to buy are flirting with the upper end of the buy range, and I am trying to exercise some patience about getting fully invested.

If we get a severe market pullback that creates additional values, I will be fully invested and would even consider using a small amount of leverage to increase my stake in small banks. I have a very high degree of conviction on this group for the next five years and beyond, and I am confident that it will eventually fund my beach house.

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