The Stocks Wall Street Was Buzzing About

Bank of America
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Find out what Wall Street analysts had to say about bank stocks and retailers in this Stock Blog Roundup.

A chorus of analysts is predicting another strong year for bank stocks, even after a 26 percent surge in financials in 2012. Meredith Whitney, for one, got bullish on Bank of America last month in anticipation it will return more capital to shareholders.

But there have been some dissenters. Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital markets, remains "very concerned" about the financials and said he does not see the stocks moving much higher if companies do not post earnings growth.

"Right now we think these financials are fully valued," Miller said. "But if we get some solid economic growth, (the) unemployment rate drops, you're going to see these stocks go higher. However, we need economic growth in 2013."

If interest rates inch higher, Miller listed Zions and Comerica among the names that would benefit.

Retailers were out with their December sales results and in the wake of the numbers, analysts said off-the-mall retailers may be better investments this year than their mall-based counterparts.

"It was very disappointing month for most of the mall-based retailers — traffic really challenging, people shopping online," Brian Tunick, JPMorgan retail analyst, told CNBC.

The off-the-mall retailers fared better in December, with Tunick citing good sales trends at off-priced retailers Ross Stores and TJX, and Gap's Old Navy.

His favorite idea for year is Urban Outfitters, another off-the-mall retailer. "The Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie concepts are really driving strong traffic," he said.

Meanwhile, Edward Yruma, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, likes department store Nordstrom, which did well in a challenging December.

"One thing with Nordstrom, it has a very high penetration in California and California seems to be getting better," the analyst said. The retailer, which caters to higher end consumers, also focuses on turning inventory quickly to keep shoppers coming back.

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Disclosures can be found in the individual Stock Blogs.