Bank of America story updated with Friday's share price movements in final paragraph.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America ( BAC) bulls are feeling brilliant, as their bank is up 47% year to date, making it best performer in the S&P 500 year to date. They should be congratulated, assuming they didn't buy the shares on Sept. 8, 2008 at $34.37. That's where Charlie Peabody, analyst at Portales Partners, told them to buy. Peabody, who no doubt had plenty of bullish company at that time, finally reversed that long-held conviction this week, downgrading the stock to "hold."
Still, the biggest reason Bank of America has outperformed all the other big financial stocks is this: financial stocks are up. That's right, virtually all of them are up. Of the 83 financial stocks in the S&P 500, as identified by Bloomberg, only three of them were down year to date through Wednesday. As the famous trader Jesse Livermore once said (with deference to the blog "The Big Picture," which highlighted this statement as its "quote of the day" on Thursday: "I never hesitate to tell a man that I am bullish or bearish. But I do not tell people to buy or sell any particular stock. In a bear market all stocks go down and in a bull market they go up." This is essentially what Wells Fargo analyst Matt Burnell was arguing in his report from last month when he saidBank of America and Citigroup stood the most to benefit among large cap banks if Greece avoids a default. Forget about Bank of America's housing issues or Citigroup's foreign exposure. The economy is hanging on a thread that relies almost entirely upon European leaders hammering out their differences, and most Europe experts continue to believe a lasting solution to the crisis is years away and will be incredibly painful. As long as the market continues to forget that, Bank of America will be the best-performing financial stock. As soon as it comes back to its senses, Bank of America will plummet. It's that simple. Indeed, on Friday we saw an example of just this phenomenon, with the S&P 500 down 1.02% in late trading and Bank of America lower by 1.98% to $8.02. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York. Follow this writer on Twitter.
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