NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You were probably very pleased with your year-end 401(k) statement, with a 10% fourth-quarter return for the S&P 500. But looking further back, the stock market has bounced back beautifully from the doldrums of March 2009.
And bank stocks have done even better. Over the past five years, the S&P 500 has risen 175% through Wednesday's close at 1,877.03, while the KBW Bank Index has risen 280% through Wednesday's close at 70.68.
It's not much of a surprise to see the banks outpacing the market during this period because they had fallen so far in the wake of the credit crisis that crested during 2008, leading to the U.S. government's humongous bailout of the industry through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.
Among the 24 components of the KBW Bank Index, the five-year winner is Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) of Cincinnati, with a total return -- assuming the reinvestment of dividends -- of 1,774%. Second place goes to Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) of Columbus, Ohio, with a total return of 943%.
The remaining 22 component stocks of the KBW Bank Index have all seen triple-digit total returns over the past five years, with People's United Bancorp (PBCT) of Bridgeport, Conn., seeing a total return of only 9%.