The focus is back on bank stocks after the Federal Reserve suggested that the market has underpriced the possibility of a March rate hike.
Bank of America is a $255-billion lender that's delivered solid returns over the past year. Shares are up 93%, out-performing rivals like JP Morgan (JPM) - Get Report (58%) or Citigroup (C) - Get Report (49%).
This outperformance is primarily driven by a wave of optimism surrounding the U.S. economy. Bank of America, with its huge presence in retail and commercial lending, could massively benefit from this movement.
Additionally, the bank is also looking at an aggressive restructuring model scheduled to reduce expenses by $3 billion from 2015 levels.
With double-digit earnings growth projected annually for the next five years, this is a rock-solid investment option.
Trading at a price-to-book value of 1.06 times, Bank of America is fairly valued. As rates go lower and the bank cuts costs, sizeable capital returns should soon playout.
Wells Fargo on the other hand, has traversed a complex terrain over the last few months.
And therein lays an attractive turnaround opportunity for investors with a strong appetite for risk. Despite the smear on its reputation, shares have risen by 22% in the last twelve months, reflecting investor sentiment.
What's more, the bank has set in motion a plan to improve accountability. No cash bonuses were given to eight senior executives for 2016. The in-house probe will also cleanse organizational culture, with several managers being fired.
Remember, Warren Buffett is still an investor in the bank, adding further reliability to the overall investment thesis.
In January, the $300-billion bank, which provides regular business updates, experienced an uptick in consumer and small business deposits.
Consumer checking accounts also saw a net gain. Large declines in new checking account openings and credit card applications are not necessarily bad, as they indicate that Wells Fargo's employees may no longer be aggressively selling those products.
We believe that Wells Fargo, which has an extensive history of sufficiently provisioning for losses, is well on its way to recovering from its fake checking account scandal.
When the bank finally gets its house in order, we expect it to return to its old form of outperforming peers like Bank of America and JP Morgan.
As one awaits the progression, investors could find solace in the 2.5% dividend yield.
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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.