BB&T

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2012 has been a stellar year for $22 billion regional bank stock BB&T ( BBT). So far this year, shares of the firm have rallied more than 26%, easily outperforming the broad market. But there's reason to believe that this big bank could have higher to run. That's why it's making our Rocket Stocks list this week.

BB&T is a bank whose 1,800 branches are centered on the South -- and unlike the big banks that grab the headlines each week, BB&T actually stuck to the banking business in the years leading up to the real estate bubble bursting. By keeping tighter underwriting standards than most, BB&T was able to skirt some of the biggest pitfalls of tumbling real estate prices in its home base region, and squeeze out double-digit net margins for its trouble.

During the crisis, BB&T used its size to snatch up assets of Colonial BancGroup from the FDIC at a bargain basement price and with limited risk. Now the firm is benefitting from the cheap deposits it picked up. That's a big part of why shares have shot up so much in 2012. As BB&T continues to eke out improvements as the economy recuperates, investors should benefit.

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