With the financial services stocks accounting for almost 15
percent of the S&P 500, the second-largest sector allocation
behind technology, it is not surprising that this sector is often
in the spotlight. Add to that the firestorm of controversy
generated by the largest investment and money center banks over the
past several years and it is not a shock that the likes of
), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:
) and J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:
) command the bulk of the banking sector headlines.
The silver lining that has emerged from the financial services
sector since the global credit crisis is that it is now easier to
spot some of the group's higher quality names. For investors, even
better news is that not all financial services gems are household
names making the rounds in the mainstream financial press on a
daily or weekly basis.
These unheralded financials have already delivered impressive
year-to-date performances and have the potential to keep on
Cullen/Frost Bankers (NYSE:
To be fair, Texas-based Cullen/Frost is by no means unheard of.
In fact, the bank has been on the receiving end of ample praise
from Wall Street in recent years for its conservative lending
practices and because the Texas economy has looked strong compared
to the rest of the U.S.
Cullen/Frost has some other feathers in its cap including the
fact it did not cut its dividend during the financial crisis like
so many of its larger, more infamous rivals did. The company
is one of the most prodigious dividend raisers
with a dividend increase streak dating back to 1995.
The stock trades at 1.55 times book value and less than 16 times
forward earnings while yielding 3.2 percent.
Administradora de Fondos de Pensiones Provida (NYSE:
PVD provides private pension plan administration in Chile. With
Chile being one
South America's brightest economic stars
, that alone is enough reason to consider PVD, but there is
PVD has no debt. It's long-term debt/equity ratio is zero and
sports a 30.5 percent
return on equity
. Beyond that, Chilean companies do not offer pensions and the
government does so on a limited basis, meaning the government
practically forces its citizens to be savers and invest in private
That simple fundamental catalyst is good for PVD because it is
one of just a few companies offering those private pension plans.
The shares have surged 55 percent this year and yield 8.6 percent.
PVD also operates in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and
BOK Financial (NASDAQ:
Think of BOK Financial as the slightly larger Oklahoma-based
equivalent of Cullen/Frost. BOK's yield is just 2.6 percent, but
the dividend has nearly doubled since 2008 and the company is
expanding its footprint in new markets, including Colorado, through
acquisitions. BOK's recent deal for wealth management firm
Milestone Group was its first buy since before the credit
The valuation here is decent as BOK trades for less than 13
times forward earnings and just 1.4 times book value. BOK's market
cap is just $4 billion, but the firm had over $639 billion in cash
at the end of the second quarter
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice.
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