BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Let's face it -- 2011 hasn't been a particularly good time to be a banker. Bank profits have been squeezed significantly this year , smashed lower as lucrative interest rate spreads narrow and trading desks struggle to wrangle these challenging markets.At the same time, banks' share prices have gone on sale. As a sector, bank stocks have shed 20% so far this year, delivering negative returns that are almost ten times worst than the broad market during an already tepid year. That's why it's time to buy banks. Bear with me. I'm not advocating buying all banks -- or even most. While financials have shown some recent technical signs of a bottom, I wouldn't recommend the vast majority as anything but a short-term trade. Still, there are some bargain opportunities in the banking business. >>3 Cheap Dow Stocks Poised to Rebound in 2012 By and large, the big banks are the ones that are struggling the most. After all, they're the ones that levered up the highest during the financial crisis and took on the potentially scarring assets of their ailing peers in its aftermath. Not so incidentally, they're also the ones trying to earn a profit by playing the yield curve rather than by actually lending in this environment. That's not the case in the large regional banking names, however. While these names lack the revenue diversification that made the big banks so attractive half a decade ago, that exposure to higher quality loan books makes them a whole lot more attractive right now. The sinking tide in the banking industry has beached all ships -- that means that there are some bargains in the regional banking names right now. Here's a look at four banks you should still buy, even in this market.
Fifth Third Bancorp
Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.