NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Barclays ( BCS) is reportedly eyeing acquisition targets in U.S. consumer banking, but the vague speculation surrounding such a deal may not be enough reason to buy potential targets, and should give investors pause about buying shares of Barclays itself. The U.K. investment bank has proven to be a shrewd dealmaker and risk manager during the financial crisis. It avoided the large government bailouts that competitors like Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS), Lloyds ( LYG) and HBOS had to receive to stay afloat. It raised private capital, and bought the bankrupt Lehman Brothers' North American operations in 2008 at a relative bargain. Now, it seems, Barclays has shifted its focus from Wall Street to Main Street. The bank is looking for a large regional franchise to balance out its U.S. operations, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. The story didn't cite any specific targets from Barclays' point of view, because the bank has only just gotten a team together to assess potential targets and "no deal is imminent." But analysts' suggestions of where a bulls-eye may be placed has helped lift some regional stocks in recent days. The KBW Regional Banking ETF ( KRE) has climbed 3% since the start of the week, closing at $25.83 on Thursday. The Journal story cited SunTrust ( STI), Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) or Comerica ( CMA) as potential candidates, but noted that there's "no indication" those companies are willing to make such a deal, nor that they have discussed the matter with Barclays. Other regional banks that have gotten a stock boost, possibly because of Barclays-M&A speculation, include Regions Financial ( RF), Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN), KeyCorp ( KEY), Zions Bancorp ( ZION), and Marshall & Ilsley ( MI). As for Barclays itself, FBR downgraded its stock earlier this week to market perform, saying its performance has "effectively round-tripped" back to levels seen after disappointing third-quarter results. The analyst believes there is "still...upside in absolute terms" but that Barclays has run its course in outperforming its sector for the near term -- especially if a deal is imminent. "Should stories circling the press on a potential U.S. acquisition prove true, we believe that this would create further headwinds for relative performance against the sector," analyst Jonathan Tyce said in a note.