Why you should buy big bank stocks NOW

Analyst's 2016 bank forecast
Analyst's 2016 bank forecast

Big banks faced a rough end to 2015 followed by a significant sell-off on the first trading day of 2016, but one analyst says now is the time to buy these large-cap bank stocks.

Although Morgan Stanley tumbled more than 11 percent over the course of the last month and JPMorgan fell more than 6 percent, Barclays senior analyst Jason Goldberg thinks there's a light at the end of the tunnel — and that is the Federal Reserve.

"Banks trade with the global economic environment, so clearly there's been uncertainty as China's been in the news obviously of late, and that tends to weigh on the stock," Goldberg told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday. "If the Fed continues to raise rates, margins should expand in 2016 and 2017, and we think that will accelerate both revenue growth and earnings growth,"

But what if the U.S. central bank decides to not raise interest rates further? Goldberg said the market is becoming a more conducive environment for large-cap financials.

"Banks have been operating at a low interest rate environment for several, several years now, and against that backdrop you've seen them control cost, which we think they'll continue to do. You've seen decent loan growth which should continue into 2016 as well," said Goldberg. "So even on only a couple of hikes, we'll get margins to go up and the user operating environment for margins go down."

Among these big banks, Goldberg named Citigroup as an outperformer.

"Clearly it's levered to the global macroeconomic backdrop, but against that they've done a great job in terms of winding down Citi Holdings, their bad bank," he said. "They did a good job managing expenses and you've seen earnings growth in its Citi Corp. operation improve as it's put up positive operating leverage and asset qualities were maintained."

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