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Updated: Dec. 9, 2021, 10:59 a.m.

Banks can seem like rather complicated businesses, and in many ways they are. However, the basic ideas behind the banking industry and how these businesses make their money are easy to understand. With that in mind, here's an overview of the different types of banks, some important metrics investors should know, and three great beginner-friendly bank stocks to keep on your radar.

  • Commercial banks: These are banks that provide services to consumers and businesses, such as checking and savings accounts, auto loans, mortgages, certificates of deposit, and more. The primary way a commercial bank makes its money is by borrowing money at a relatively low interest rate and lending it to customers at a higher rate. While commercial banks make the bulk of their money from interest income, many also collect substantial fee revenue from things like loan origination fees, ATM surcharges, and account maintenance fees. It's important for investors to note that commercial banking is a cyclical business -- when recessions (and pandemics) hit, unemployment rises and consumers and businesses often have trouble paying their bills.
  • Investment banks: These banks provide investment services for institutional clients and high-net-worth individuals. Investment banks help other companies go public through IPOs, issue debt securities, and advise on mergers and acquisitions, and they earn fees for doing these things. Investment banks typically also make money from trading in equities, fixed-income securities, currencies, and commodities. They also typically have wealth management businesses and often have substantial investment portfolios of their own. Unlike commercial banking, investment banking tends to hold up quite well during recessions. In fact, when markets get volatile, investment banking often does better.
  • Universal banks: A universal bank is one that has both commercial and investment banking operations. Most large U.S. banks are universal banks. While commercial banks get the bulk of their profits from interest income and investment banks primarily rely on fee income, universal banks enjoy a nice combination of the two.

Obviously, these are simplified definitions. Banks have many other ways to generate revenue. For example, many banks offer safe deposit boxes for lease to their customers, and some make money through partnerships with third-party companies. However, at their core, these are the main ways that banks make their money.

Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan and surrounding buildings, wide angle upward view, New York City

Source: Getty Images

Hundreds of banks trade on the major U.S. exchanges, and they come in various sizes, geographic locations, and focuses. While there are some excellent choices in the investable universe, here are three beginner-friendly bank stocks that could deliver excellent returns for years to come:

Bank of America has been one of the most impressive turnaround stories in the post-financial-crisis era, even as falling interest rates put pressure on its profitability. In recent years, the bank increased its loan portfolio at rates well ahead of its peers, and the company has made major improvements in efficiency while building out its online and mobile technology. Bank of America's asset quality is excellent, and with a relatively high concentration of deposits that don't pay interest, the bank is in a strong position to benefit if and when interest rates rise.

JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase is hands down the most profitable of the big universal banks, and it’s also the largest bank by market capitalization in the U.S. The bank has operations in just about every area of both commercial and investment banking, and it has done a particularly great job of expanding its credit card and auto loan businesses in recent years. JPMorgan Chase has also done an excellent job of embracing new technologies, and it has made some key investments in financial technology, or fintech, companies.

U.S. Bancorp

U.S. Bancorp is primarily a commercial bank, with income from loans and other consumer banking products making up virtually all of its revenue. Not only is U.S. Bancorp (known to most Americans as U.S. Bank) focused on consumer banking, it consistently produces some of the most impressive profitability and efficiency metrics in the sector and has been an excellent dividend stock for investors. Because it doesn't depend on investment banking, which is generally the more volatile side of the banking business, U.S. Bancorp's profitability and revenue tend to be more predictable and consistent than the other two banks on this list.

If you're looking to invest in individual bank stocks, here are a few metrics that you might want to add to your toolkit:

  • Price-to-book (P/B) value: An excellent valuation metric to use with bank stocks, the price-to-book, or P/B, ratio shows how much a bank is trading for relative to the net value of its assets. It can be used in combination with the profitability metrics discussed next to give an overall picture of how cheap or expensive a bank stock is.
  • Return on equity (ROE): The first of two common profitability metrics used with bank stocks, return on equity is a bank’s profits expressed as a percentage of its shareholders’ equity. Higher is better; 10% or above is generally considered sufficient.
  • Return on assets (ROA): This is a bank’s profit as a percentage of the assets on its balance sheet. For example, if a bank made a
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    billion profit for a given year and had 0 billion in assets, its return on assets would be 1%. Investors generally want to see an ROA of 1% or higher.
  • Efficiency ratio: A bank’s efficiency ratio is a percentage that tells investors how much the bank spent to generate its revenue. For example, a 60% efficiency ratio means that a bank spent for every 0 in revenue it generated. You get the efficiency ratio by dividing noninterest expenses (operating costs) by net revenue, and lower is better.

Banks can be a great place to invest, especially in strong economies. When consumers are confident to spend and unemployment is low, profits tend to grow and loan defaults are typically kept in check. On the other hand, banks tend to perform quite poorly during recessions and other uncertain times. In investing terms, this means banks are a cyclical business.

There are a few reasons banks tend to perform poorly during recessions and other difficult economic climates. For one thing, they could face a wave of loan defaults if unemployment rises. Second, consumers tend to pump the brakes on spending during recessions, which leads to lower demand for loans. Finally, interest rates tend to decline during tough times, which is bad news for banks' profit margins.

It’s also worth mentioning that some parts of investment banking -- specifically trading and underwriting -- tend to do better in turbulent times. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) that have large investment banking operations could be helped by this, while banks that largely focus on commercial banking, such as Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), could be at a temporary disadvantage.

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Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) CEO Warren Buffett is known as one of the best stock investors of all time, and for good reason. During his 55 years at the helm of the company, Buffett has delivered annualized returns more than double those of the S&P 500, and the investments he’s chosen for Berkshire’s massive stock portfolio over the years are a good reason why.

If you take a glance at Berkshire’s stock portfolio, you’ll notice one major trend -- Buffett owns quite a few bank stocks. Berkshire owns stakes worth

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billion or more in four different bank stocks, including a very large stake in Bank of America.

The bottom line on bank stocks

While it’s not necessarily a smart idea to buy any particular stock just because a billionaire owns it (even Warren Buffett), there does appear to be some value in the banking industry in 2021. So, if you don’t have much exposure in your portfolio, one or more of the rock-solid banks discussed here could be a good fit for you.

FAQs

At their core, banks make their money in two main ways -- commercial banking and investment banking. Commercial banking refers to the banking products and services that banks provide to individuals and businesses. Investment banking refers to services a bank provides to corporations, governments, high-net-worth individuals, and other entities that go beyond those commercial banking activities.

The short answer is yes. Bank stocks are generally affected by recessions for a couple of reasons. First, interest rates tend to fall during recessions. Second, and more important, unemployment tends to rise during recessions, and more consumers run into financial trouble.

However, the longer answer is that every bank is different. Consumer banking (taking in deposits and lending money) is highly cyclical, and this is especially true for banks that specialize in riskier forms of lending such as credit cards. On the other hand, investment banking tends to do even better during turbulent times, so banks that have large investment banking operations tend to see profits hold up quite well.

When trying to analyze a particular bank stock, it's a good idea to focus on four main things:

  • What the bank actually does
  • Its price
  • Its earnings power
  • The amount of risk it's taking to achieve that earnings power
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0 followers0 symbols Watchlist by Yahoo Finance

Follow this list to discover and track stocks in the financial services sector.

Curated by Yahoo Finance

Follow this list to discover and track stocks in the financial services sector.

These stocks include those in the banking business and capital markets that usually thrive as interest rates rise. The list includes stocks priced at or more with a three month average daily trading volume in excess of 200,000 shares. This list is generated daily and sorted by market cap; the gains are based on the latest closing price and limited to the top 30 stocks that meet the criteria.

This watchlist is similar to a discontinued watchlist called Rising Interest Rates.

Background

Yahoo Finance employs sophisticated algorithms to monitor and detect trends in the Global Financial Markets. We bring these insights to you in the form of watchlists.

Find other winning investment ideas with the Yahoo Finance Screener.

How are these weighted?

The stocks in this watchlist are weighted equally.

WatchlistChange Today1 Month Return1 Year ReturnTotal Return
Bank and Financial Services Stocks----
^GSPC-0.75%-1.51% 24.92% 4882.48%
SymbolCompany NameLast PriceChange% ChangeMarket TimeVolumeAvg Vol (3 month)Market Cap

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  • It took an unemployment rate nosediving below 4%, years into the last U.S. economic recovery, to raise the country's labor force participation rate, and Federal Reserve officials are banking on a similar response in new projections that couple a renewed fight against inflation with a historic run of low joblessness. It's an outlook that has struck some analysts as contradictory - unemployment sitting at 3.5% for several years might be expected to raise price pressures - but it is consistent with recent research showing a long lag between rising employment and an eventual increase in labor supply and participation rates. Fed officials expected a participation rebound would happen fast this time.

The Complete List of Bank Stocks Trading on the NYSE as of Dec 17, 2021 are shown below:

Note: If you are looking for bank stocks trading on the NASDAQ click here.

a) US Banks

S.No.NameTickerCountry
1Ally Financial Inc.ALLYUSA
2Associated Banc-CorpASBUSA
3Axos Financial Inc.
AXUSA
4Banc of California Inc.BANCUSA
5BancorpSouth BankBXSUSA
6Bank of America CorporationBACUSA
7Bank of Hawaii CorporationBOHUSA
8BankUnited Inc.
BKUUSA
9Bar Harbor Bankshares Inc.BHBUSA
10Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc.BHLBUSA
11Blue Ridge Bankshares Inc.BRBSUSA
12Byline Bancorp Inc.BYUSA
13Cadence BancorporationCADEUSA
14Capital One Financial CorporationCOFUSA
15Central Pacific Financial CorpCPFUSA
16CIT Group IncCITUSA
17Citigroup Inc.CUSA
18Citizens Financial Group Inc.CFGUSA
19Comerica IncorporatedCMAUSA
20Community Bank System Inc.CBUUSA
21Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.CFRUSA
22Customers Bancorp IncCUBIUSA
23Evans Bancorp Inc.EVBNUSA
24F.N.B. CorporationFNBUSA
25FB Financial CorporationFBKUSA
26First Commonwealth Financial CorporationFCFUSA
27First Horizon CorporationFHNUSA
28First Republic BankFRCUSA
29Flagstar Bancorp Inc.
FBCUSA
30Great Western Bancorp Inc.GWBUSA
31Hilltop Holdings Inc.HTHUSA
32JP Morgan Chase & Co.JPMUSA
33KeyCorpKEYUSA
34M&T Bank CorporationMTBUSA
35Megalith Financial Acquisition Corp.MFACUSA
36Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp.MCBUSA
37National Bank Holdings CorporationNBHCUSA
38New York Community Bancorp Inc.NYCBUSA
39Park National CorporationPRKUSA
40PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (The)PNCUSA
41Prosperity Bancshares Inc.PBUSA
42Provident Financial Services Inc
PFSUSA
43Regions Financial CorporationRFUSA
44Silvergate Capital CorporationSIUSA
45State Street CorporationSTTUSA
46Sterling BancorpSTLUSA
47Synovus Financial Corp.SNVUSA
48The Bank of New York Mellon CorporationBKUSA
49Tompkins Financial CorporationTMPUSA
50Truist Financial CorporationTFCUSA
51U.S. BancorpUSBUSA
52Webster Financial CorporationWBSUSA
53Wells Fargo & CompanyWFCUSA
54Western Alliance BancorporationWALUSA

b) Foreign Banks

S.No.NameTickerCountry
1Banco BBVA Argentina S.A.BBARArgentina
2Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A.BBVASpain
3Banco Bradesco SaBBDBrazil
4Banco De Chile Banco De ChileBCHChile
5Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior S.A.BLXPanama
6Banco Macro S.A.BMAArgentina
7Banco Santander - ChileBSACChile
8Banco Santander Brasil SABSBRBrazil
9Banco Santander Mexico S.A.BSMXMexico
10Banco Santander S.A.SANSpain
11BanColombia S.A.CIBColombia
12Bank Nova Scotia HalifaxBNSCanada
13Bank Of MontrealBMOCanada
14Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited (The)NTBBermuda
15Barclays PLCBCSUnited Kingdom
16Canadian Imperial Bank of CommerceCMCanada
17Credicorp Ltd.BAPPeru
18Deutsche Bank AGDBGermany
19First BanCorp.FBPPuerto Rico
20Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores S.A.AVALColombia
21Grupo Supervielle S.A.SUPVArgentina
22HDFC Bank LimitedHDBIndia
23HSBC Holdings plc. HSBCUK
24ICICI Bank LimitedIBNIndia
25ING Group N.V.INGNetherlands
26Intercorp Financial Services Inc.IFSPeru
27Itau CorpBancaITCBChile
28Itau Unibanco Banco Holding SAITUBBrazil
29KB Financial Group IncKBSouth Korea
30Lloyds Banking Group PlcLYGUnited Kingdom
31Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.MUFGJapan
32Mizuho Financial Group Inc.MFGJapan
33NatWest Group plcNWGUnited Kingdom
34OFG BancorpOFGPuerto Rico
35Royal Bank Of CanadaRYCanada
36Shinhan Financial Group Co LtdSHGSouth Korea
37Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group IncSMFGJapan
38Toronto Dominion Bank (The)TDCanada
39UBS Group AGUBSSwitzerland
40Westpac Banking CorporationWBKAustralia
41Woori Financial Group Inc.WFSouth Korea

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