NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- After decent performance in July when the great majority of stocks among the 50 largest public U.S. bank and thrift holding companies (by total assets) showed gains, August was a return to misery for the banking sector, with 49 out of 50 declining.

Here are the five best stock performers among the group during August:

Company Profile

Hudson City Bancorp ( HCBK) is headquartered in Paramus, N.J. and operates over 130 branches in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Shares declined 6% during August to close-out the month at $11.53.

Hudson City has received wide coverage as a strong performer through the credit crisis and because it is among a select group of healthy banks paying high dividends that are well-supported by earnings.

Based on a quarterly payout of 15 cents a share, the dividend yield was 5.20% as of Tuesday's market close.

Income Statement

Hudson City earned $142.6 million during the first quarter or 29 cents a share, compared to $148.9 million, or 30 cents a share, in the first quarter and $127.9 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

Balance Sheet

Hudson City Bancorp had $61 billion in total assets as of June 30 and was heavily concentrated in mortgage loans. Nonperforming assets at main subsidiary comprised 1.25% of total assets and loan charge-offs have been minimal through the credit crisis.

Stock Ratios

The shares are trading for just 1.1 times tangible book value. The ratio of price to the consensus earnings estimate for 2010 is 10.2 and the P/E based on the 2011 earnings projection is 10, dropping to a very low 8.9 when based on the 2012 consensus earnings estimate.

Analyst Ratings

Out of 16 analysts covering Hudson City Bancorp, five recommend buying the shares, nine have hold ratings and two recommend dumping the shares.

Company Profile

Bank of New York Mellon focuses on fee-generating services including asset servicing and wealth management rather than lending. The company is a dominant provider of securities custody services. The shares were down 3% during August, closing at $24.26 Tuesday.

Income Statement

Net income for the second quarter was $658 million, or 55 cents a share, improving from $559 million, or 49 cents a share, in the first quarter and $176 million, or 23 cents a share, when the company paid $236 million in redemption charges and preferred dividends to exit TARP.

Balance Sheet

Bank of New York Mellon had $236 billion in total assets as of June 30. Nonperformers comprised just 0.47% of total assets and loan losses have been light through the credit crisis.

Stock Ratios

The shares trade for 3.3 times tangible book value, reflecting investors' high regard for Bank of New York Mellon's low risk profile and strong position in securities custody and asset management. Shares look cheap, trading for a low 10.5 times the consensus earnings estimate for 2010, and just 9.2 times the 2011 consensus projection and 7.8 times the consensus earnings estimate for 2012.

Analyst Ratings

Out of 20 analysts covering the shares, 14 recommend buying the shares and there are six hold ratings.

Company Profile

Northern Trust ( NTRS) is based in Chicago and operates in 18 states and also has international operations, focusing mainly on asset servicing, trust and fund administration and other fee-generating services. Shares closed at $46.13 Tuesday, down 2% for August.

Income Statement

The company earned $200 million during the second quarter, or 82 cents a share, compared to $157 million, or 64 cents a share, for the first quarter and net income available to common shareholders of $226 million a year earlier, or 95 cents a share. Prior year earnings were net of 37 cents a share in dividends paid to the Treasury on $1.6 billion in preferred shares for TARP money that was repaid in August 2009.

The year-over-year decline in earnings resulted mainly from lower securities lending revenue and an increase in service fees waived.

Balance Sheet

Northern Trust had $80 billion in total assets as of June 30. The company's nonperforming assets ratio was just 0.50%, as the company's loan portfolio comprised just 35% of total assets. Loan losses through the crisis have been minimal and the company was strongly capitalized as of June 30, with a Tier 1 leverage ratio of 9.22% and a total risk-based capital ratio of 15.88%.

Stock Ratios

Northern Trust is trading at 1.8 times tangible book, although the shares usually trade much higher, reflecting the company's lower risk profile than banks relying more on lending activity. Shares are trading for 15.8 times the consensus earnings estimate for 2010, with the P/E dropping to 13.2 based on the 2011 consensus and a low 10.8 based on the 2012 consensus earnings projection.

Analyst Ratings

Out of 19 analysts covering the shares, there are 9 buy recommendations and 10 holding recommendations, which makes for strong overall sentiment in the current environment for bank stocks.

Company Profile

M&T Bank Corp. ( MTB) is headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y. and operates branches in offices in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Shares declined 1% during August to close at $85.64 on Tuesday.

The company is in play as Allied Irish Banks PLC ( AIB) is attempting to sell its 22.5% stake in M&T's common shares, and has held talks with Banco Santander SA ( STD) according to the Financial Times. Banco Santander has also been having merger discussions with M&T, according to various reports.

Income Statement

M&T reported second-quarter net income available to common shareholders of $176 million, or $1.46 a share, increasing from $151 million, or $1.15 a share, the previous quarter and $41 million, or 36 cents a share, a year earlier.

Balance Sheet

M&T had $68 billion in total assets as of June 30. Nonperforming assets - including loans past due 90 or more days or in nonaccrual status (less government-guaranteed balances) and repossessed real estate - comprised 1.86% of total assets, which measured up well against the industry aggregate "noncurrent assets" ratio of 3.31% reported by the FDIC.

The company owes $600 million in TARP money.

Stock Ratios

M&T trades for 2.8 times tangible book value, which is high in the current environment, although the shares were going for more than four times tangible book at the end of 2006, when investors weren't afraid of a credit crisis. The shares are trading for 15.9 times the 2010 consensus earnings estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, although the price-to-forward-earnings ratio drops to 12.3 if you go out to the 2012 estimate.

Analyst Ratings

Out of 19 analysts covering the shares, 15 have hold ratings, 2 rate the shares a buy and 2 recommend selling the shares.

Company Profile

The best-performing stock among the largest 50 domestic bank holding companies was The South Financial Group ( TSFG), with shares flat at 28 cents, which was no surprise, since the company agreed on May 16 to be acquired by Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD) for that price. The merger deal has been approved by regulators and is subject to a vote by The South Financial Group's shareholders on September 28.

The South Financial Group is based in Greenville, S.C. and operates in North Carolina and South Carolina and Florida through its Carolina First Bank subsidiary, although the Florida offices are branded as Mercantile Bank.

Income Statement

The South Financial Group posted a second-quarter net loss to common shareholders of $314.9 million or $1.46 a share, reflecting a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $214.1 million and a $113.9 million provision for credit losses.

Balance Sheet

On April 30, main subsidiary Carolina First Bank entered into a consent order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation requiring the bank to achieve and maintain a Tier 1 leverage ratio of 8% and a total risk-based capital ratio of 12% within 120 days. These ratios normally need to be 5% and 10% for a bank to be considered well capitalized by regulators, but the bank's continued losses and high level of nonperforming assets provided the basis for higher requirements.

Carolina First Bank's Tier 1 leverage ratio was 5.90% and its total risk-based capital ratio was 9.85% as of June 30. In the holding company's second-quarter 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, The South Financial Group said that it is unable to complete the merger with Toronto-Dominion, "its ability to operate as a going concern could be negatively impacted."

The South Financial Group owes the government $347 million for bailout funds received through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP. As part of the merger agreement with Toronto-Dominion, the Treasury agreed to allow the preferred shares to be redeemed for just $130.6 million upon completion of the merger.

Stock Ratios

The shares were trading for just 0.2 times tangible book value as of Tuesday's market close, according to SNL Financial.

Analyst Ratings

Three of four analysts covering The South Financial Group have hold ratings on the shares, according to Thomson Reuters, while one has a sell rating.

A play on The South Financial Group is a play on Toronto-Dominion's U.S. expansion strategy and, of course, on the merger's completion.

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Philip van Doorn.

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Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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