Of course, with the banking industry continuing to earn money and build capital as the economy continues its slow recovery and loan quality improves, investors may be looking at a pull-back opportunity, following a very strong showing this year for most large-cap bank stocks.

The "big four" U.S. banks had a very rough Wednesday.

The financial loser was Bank of America ( BAC), with shares sliding over 7% to close at $9.23. Bank of America's shares have now returned 67% year-to-date, following an epic 58% decline during 2011. The shares may appear cheap, trading at just 0.7 times their reported Sept. 30 tangible book value of $13.48, but they are the most expensive among the big four to forward earnings. BAC trades for 9.5 times the consensus 2013 earnings estimate of 97 cents a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. That's a rather costly forward P/E in the current environment for the nation's largest bank stocks, especially when considering Bank of America's uneven earnings performance and legacy mortgage putback risk.

Bank of America currently pays a nominal quarterly dividend of a penny a share. Looking past the fiscal cliff negotiations, investors are hoping for Bank of America to begin returning more significant capital to investors during 2013 following the next round of Federal Reserve stress tests.

Deutsche Bank analyst Matt O'Connor on Tuesday estimated that the company would return a total of $2.981 billion to common shareholders next year, through $1.481 billion in dividends, plus $1.500 billion in share buybacks. The analyst expects Bank of America's 2013 dividend yield on common shares to be 1.3%.

BAC Chart BAC data by YCharts

Interested in more on Bank of America? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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