Two Gurus High on Bank Stocks

Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the financial crisis, many investors still don’t trust bank stocks. Top fund managers Bill Nygren and David Ellison think that is part of why it’s time to buy them.

“The stocks are still low because investors don’t trust that the earnings will recover fully,” Ellison tells Renal and Urology News. (An odd source, we know, but they have a solid ‘Money’ section.) He notes that bank stocks are trading at about 110% of book value, on average, well below the 180% levels seen in typical bull markets. He thinks we are in the early part of a long-term recovery in which bank earrings and share prices will jump, comparing the current environment to the start of a strong banking cycle that started in the early 80s. Banks have been making good loans and cleaning up their balance sheets in the post-mortgage-meltdown world, he says.

Nygren, meanwhile, says bank loan volume remains low, but should pick up as the economy continues to improve. Even if it doesn’t, he says some banks, like Bank of America, should still be able to grow earnings.