4. U.S. Bancorp Shares of U.S. Bancorp ( USB) of Minneapolis closed at $31.65 Friday, returning 17% year-to-date, following a 2% return during 2011. Following its passing of the Federal Reserve's 2012 stress tests with flying colors, U.S. Bancorp last Wednesday announced it would U.S. Bancorp announced that it would increase its quarterly dividend to 19.5 from 12.5 cents and that it had authorized a new program to buy back up to 100 million shares, replacing the company's previous buyback program. Based on the new payout, the shares have a 2.46% dividend yield. The shares trade for 2.9 times tangible book value, and for 12 times the consensus 2012 EPS estimate of $2.69. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $2.92. While those valuations look high in the current environment, especially the price-to-book ratio, U.S. Bancorp has distinguished itself with strong, steady earnings performance through the credit crisis. The company's 2011 return on average assets of 1.51% was, by far, the highest among this group of 10 Midwest banks. Interested in more on U.S. Bancorp? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.