Right now, investors are feeling a little wary of the banking sector, and for good reason. After all, it's only been a few weeks since the Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report scandal blew up, Meanwhile, troubles at Deutsche Bank (DB) - Get Deutsche Bank AG Report have investors, as well as the International Monetary Fund, concerned.
However, there are still some great, high-quality, safe banking stocks that you can get into today. And with timid investors shunning the sector as a whole, right now you can scoop up these stocks at a discount.
Although the banking sector is being rocked by the continuing drama surrounding Wells Fargo, Bank of America has managed to weather the tumult. And although rivals Citigroup (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report and JPMorganChase (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report are doing OK, Bank of America has a few advantages that set it apart.
JPMorgan carries zero room for a valuation upside compared to Bank of America. Trading at 1.08 times book value, its positives have already been priced into the stock. By comparison, Bank of America is currently at a sharp discount. This is definitely a window to get in and push for gains when the banking tide begins to turn.
On a price-to-book valuation, there's precious little differentiating these heavyweights. Citigroup has traditionally underperformed Bank of America -- if we look at the last six-months, year-to-date, three-year, or five-year periods, this becomes particularly apparent.
While Bank of America's trailing 12-month return on equity is overwhelmed by Citigroup's numbers, Bank of America's enduring appeal is its sheer size. But above and beyond its reassuringly large reach, what's helped this bank is its turbo-charged cash-generation capabilities.
Experts estimate that if interest rates rose by 100 basis points, Bank of America's net interest income would grow by $7.5 billion. Compare this to another set of metrics: Citi itself has suggested that its net interest income would hover in the range of $2 billion if rates rose by 100 basis points.
Finally, there's Bank of America's dividend yield. The bank's common stock may offer an unappetizing 1.85% yield, but its Preferred L shares (BAC-L) - Get Bank of America Corp 7.25 % Non Cum Perp Conv Pfd Registered Shs Series L Report are throwing off dividends more than triple that, at 5.97% right now.
We'd recommend these preferred shares for investors looking for retirement stock options, given that income sweet spot.
However, any way you slice it, Bank of America is the most appealing -- and safest -- bank stock for your investment money today.
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The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.