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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The banking space has moved from survival mode to prosper mode. Banks are near or breaking 52-week highs across the board, and your portfolio wants to be a part of it. The biggest obstacle is the government.
JPMorgan Chase(JPM - Get Report),
Wells Fargo (WFC),
Bank of America(BAC) and
U.S. Bancorp(USB) have all soared higher since about a year ago when I began writing about them.
"Because the banks have many of the problems built into the price, if the storm clouds do pass more quickly than expected (and they will pass at some point, they always do), the payoff could be huge." Is what I wrote in
"5 Banks to Consider as Options Plays", and I believe it's true again with recent London Whale headlines. Since that article, here's the performance:
JPMorgan Chase(JPM - Get Report), +46%
Bank of America(BAC), +80%
Wells Fargo(WFC), +26%
U.S. Bancorp(USB), +11%
I understand and fully support that individuals who break the law or their fiduciary duty deserve punishment, but why punish the victims? By victims I mean shareholders, haven't they received more than their fair share of pain?
First, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's CEO, has to take time away from leading the $206 billion dollar operation to answer questions by politicians who understand it's more beneficial for them to have face time with cameras than to understand the questions they are asking, much less the answers. You shouldn't have been surprised (I certainly wasn't) when he walked away from that experience unscathed.
That wasn't enough, though, not according to
reports prosecutors and FBI are pig piling onto an already near-settlement between JPMorgan and the Securities Exchange Commission.
It's as if the regulators have a "Fantasy Island" dream that risk can be removed from investing, and they can prevent people from making mistakes, intentional or otherwise. Sorry to break the news, but you can't change human nature and regardless of regulations and actions that are more likely a cure worse than the disease, it won't help.
When regulators come knocking on the door of JPMorgan, what do they say -- "Hey, we're from the government and we are here to help"? The only accomplishment is victimizing shareholders because of the money, resources and attention used defending useless government actions. The government is like a pesky neighbor who can't wait to tell you how you should have locked a door after you're robbed.
Unless, of course, you believe losing $6 billion isn't enough motivation for JPMorgan to make internal procedure and oversight changes. If you believe that, I have some lovely oceanfront property in Wisconsin for sale.
What can investors do right now? My 12-month price target remains at $65, but I would allow some dust settling before buying. If you're already long, consider selling covered calls as a hedge and "sleep-aid" during the increased volatility. An example is the November $60 strike calls that are selling for about 35 cents.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.Follow @RobertWeinsteinThis article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.