Dick Bove: Buy Bank of America, JPMorgan, Citigroup, SunTrust and UBS

Living wills for banks
Living wills for banks   

Banking analyst Dick Bove believes following the industry's biggest names will pave the road to profitability over the next 12 months.

The widely followed Rafferty Capital Markets vice president of equity research has released his latest list of five names he expects will beat the S&P 500. Last year, his picks, made on the Fourth of July weekend, returned 8.2 percent in the 12-month period, topping the stock market index's 4.7 percent gain. The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index returned 8 percent during the period.

In 2014, Bove favored a collection of names that covered a broad swath of the financial world's activities, including traditional banking, brokerages and credit cards. This time, the companies form a more heterogeneous focus of the largest firms in the business.

A look at his picks in 2014 and 2015:

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
BAC
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MS
---
BK
---
COF
---
RF
---
LAZ
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Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
BAC
---
C
---
JPM
---
STI
---
SB1CHA
---

There's only one duplicate on the list: Bank of America. (Rafferty does not own any of the stocks, although he invested a hypothetical $1 million in the portfolio. In 2014, Bove "sold" Capital One and replaced it with Regions Financial.)

As the charts show, Bove is making a definite tactical shift. JPMorgan is the largest U.S. bank by assets with $2.57 trillion. Bank of America is second with $2.1 trillion, and Citigroup is third at $1.83 trillion, according to SNL Financial. SunTrust ranks 13th, with $190.3 billion.

"Global money supply is growing at relatively rapid rates due to central banking easing everywhere resulting in: A meaningful increase in the raw material for trading rising at a time when market volatility is high, (and) more funds to be managed by the largest asset managers," Bove said in a report for clients.

The report also cited the likelihood of a boost to advisory businesses, interest rates increases and a stronger U.S. economy triggering more lending. He further cited "upset in Europe and China" that would drive fund flows to big U.S. banks, as well as an "orgy of bank litigation" with smaller penalties, and successful efforts to cut operating cost ratios.

As for specific attributes of the companies: Bank of America will be able to get back to business after settling multiple thorny litigation issues; Citigroup is "the only truly international bank in the world"; JPMorgan boasts "superior management at all levels" despite the criticism CEO Jamie Dimon has come under; SunTrust will capitalize on a booming Florida economy; and UBS is "the largest asset manager in the world" and will benefit from its operations in the Far East and Switzerland.

Interestingly, Bove said he would have included Fannie Mae on the list except it is trading below $5 a share.

Though they've done better as of late, bank stocks have struggled overall this year. The KBW index is up 1.6 percent year to date. The S&P 500's more-encompassing financial sector is off 1.6 percent in 2015, while S&P bank stocks are little changed. Specialized finance companies are up 8.2 percent, multi-line insurers have gained 6 percent and diversified real estate investment trusts have risen 7 percent.

On the negative side, industrial and hotel and resort REITs are off 11 percent and 12.4 percent respectively, while consumer finance companies are down 10.3 percent.