Top Strategists Turning to Banks

Bank stocks have been getting little love amid the European debt crisis, but MarketWatch’s Mark Hulbert says some top-performing strategists have been diving into the much-maligned area recently.

Hulbert looked at the stocks recently upgraded by some of the top performers he tracks via his Hulbert Financial Digest, and found that the banking industry was tied for second in terms of most upgrades. (Commercial vehicles ranked first.) “It is interesting to note, however, that there is no one particular bank that the top performers are upgrading,” Hulbert writes. “This means that the best way of following the lead of the top performers is via an exchange-traded fund that is benchmarked to the entire sector — such as the Select Sector SPDR Financial or the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Financial Sector Index ETF.”

Hulbert says it shouldn’t be surprising to see some top performers heading into a beaten-down industry. “The daily drumbeat of awful news out of Europe, coupled with the recent downgrades of a number of top banks, has sent most traders running, rather than walking, away from this sector,” he says of financials. “But think about it. Do you really think it’s a good idea to base your trading strategies on the latest news? Just take the European sovereign debt crisis, for example, which has dominated the front-page headlines for at least two-and-a-half years now. How far has a focus on those headlines gotten you? … It’s the worst performers who typically jump in and out of the market or individual sectors in reaction to the latest news.”