Every day, the sun rises on Wall Street, and a plethora of professional
analysts wake to issue new opinions on stocks. Here at the Fool, we use
our "This Just In" column to examine some of these picks -- and the track records of the firms behind them -- so individuals can make better investing decisions.
If you're like us, you've been following the financial sector very closely; as banks go, so goes the economy.
Last week, an audit by the TARP program's government watchdog suggested
that a wide majority (83%) of banks that have received TARP investments
had, in fact, put some of the funds to work by lending them out. That
may well be true, but recently released second-quarter results show
that the amount of total loans at the largest banks -- all TARP
recipients -- fell during the period:
Historically, tumultuous times offer some of the best opportunities to buy stocks,
and the market's current mess surely qualifies. The financial sector is
one of the last areas investors are looking to for opportunities, but
some still see many reasons to consider buying shares of major bank Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC).
The most widely cited valuation metric, the P/E ratio,
often doesn't make sense, especially when earnings are under pressure.
Book value, on the other hand, is less erratic than earnings. Could
book value, then, give us better insight about the index's valuation?
Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. So why does
the media focus so much attention on what Wall Street says about
companies, instead of what it does with them?
A shell-shocked economy, spiraling debt at financial institutions, or
just plain bad management -- on any given day, investors can name a
number of reasons to sell a stock. Yet while panic never helps investors, it's still a good idea to play devil's advocate with investments.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)
announced surprise quarterly earnings this morning of $3.2 billion, or
$0.33 per common share after stripping out preferred dividends. That's
good and all -- the bank hasn't had the best of years, you know.
Earlier this year, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)
received an additional slug of capital from taxpayers to digest its
Merrill Lynch acquisition. In addition to $20 billion of TARP funds, the bank received what's called a ring-fenced asset guarantee on 90% of a $118 billion pool of assets.
After a financial meltdown that left the global financial system
reeling, executives in the banking sector should have taken a page out
of the Talking Heads' playbook, and asked themselves questions like
"How did I get here?" If they had, perhaps I wouldn't have that darn
"same as it ever was" refrain running constantly through my head today.