Mario Gabelli: Bank stocks, including Goldman Sachs, should continue to rise

The gains in Goldman Sachs and bank stocks, which have led the post-election market rally, remain on solid ground, one top investor told CNBC on Tuesday.

"The fact is the American banking system — and to call Goldman a bank, the investment banks and the commercial banks are two different worlds — they'll do quite well because the fundamentals are terrific. The underpinnings are great. And that's going to be utilized and growing and helping the American economy and helping income inequality and do a lot of very good things," Mario Gabelli, chairman and CEO of Gamco Investors, said on CNBC's "Halftime Report."

Financials are the top performing sector in the S&P 500 since the November election, up more than 17 percent. The bet isthat rising interest rates and reduced regulation under the coming Trump administration will help profit margins, while increased U.S. economic growth will help banks' businesses. In particular, Dow component Goldman Sachs has accounted for about a quarter of the Dow Jones industrial average's gains since the election.

Gabelli expects Goldman Sachs to remain part of the bank stock rally.

"Goldman is a subset of what's going on in the entire ecosystem of stocks, and after the election capitalism beat out socialism ... and that's good for people who want to have assets protected under the rule of law," Gabelli said. "And now we're putting back innovation and creativity. Goldman is terrific at that."

Gabelli added that fiscal stimulus, increased corporate deal-making, and tax reform should benefit Goldman, and the stock should do well "over the next five years."

Not everyone agrees

But with growing concerns about the sustainability of the financials-led stock market rally, Citi on Tuesday downgraded Goldman Sachs to sell from neutral based on the view that the stock's post-election rally has "overshot." Analyst Keith Horowitz said at currentlevels, Goldman's stock price is expecting $4 billion more revenue than what Wall Street anticipates. He's still recommending Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

The financials stocks began their rise before the election, indicating to some analysts that the sector is set for gains regardless of politics. Over the last 12 months, financials are up more than 31 percent and vying with energy for top place in the S&P during that time period.

Gabelli on Tuesday also discussed his stock plays in pet care: animal hospital operator VCA, which agreed Monday to be acquired by Mars Petcare; dental and animal health products company Patterson; dental and veterinary supplies distributor Henry Schein; and Nestle, which has a pet foods line.

— CNBC's Tae Kim contributed to this report.