5. Synovus Financial ( SNV) Company Profile: Synovus is a financial-services company that provides commercial and retail banking services, financial management, insurance, mortgage and leasing services. Share Price: $2.54 (Dec. 17) 2010 Stock Performance: 24% Analyst Consensus: Eight research firms rate Synovus a "buy." Another 16 firms say investors should hold on to shares, while three have a "sell" rating on Synovus. Bullish Case: Following a meeting with Synovus management, Collins Stewart analyst Todd Hagerman wrote in a Nov. 15 research report that he was upgrading the stock to "buy," even though the credit outlook remains cautious. "While we have questioned management's fortitude in carrying out decisions, such as staff reductions, we now believe management is preparing to announce a combination of cost-savings programs to help restore the company's profitability sooner than expected," Hagerman wrote. "While the stock has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks with fear of a 'take-under,' management appears to have no illusions that unless it accelerates its return to profitability, its future independence is in doubt."