Time to Buy Banks?

Cramer has been reluctant to recommend any of the banks for a while now. For obvious reasons – the credit crisis, toxic assets, mortgage problems. Let’s face it, there’s been little reason to be bullish on this sector. But lately the regional banks have started to show signs of strength. Enough that maybe a few are worth buying.

The present situation in the financials reminds Cramer of the savings-and-loan crisis of 1989-1991. Back then, weaker firms went under and their assets went to stronger survivors. Out of that came big-time regional players that made their investors a lot of money. At the same time, others were taken over by national banks, still making money for shareholders.

This strategy worked for Cramer while he was managing his hedge fund, and he thinks it will work this time around as well. His top choice among these regionals is FirstMerit , an Akron, Ohio, bank similar to International Bancshares. FMER may be the fourth-ranked bank in the state – behind Huntington Bancshares , PNC Financial and KeyCorp – but Cramer said FirstMerit is in much better shape than its rivals right now. That’s why the stock is one of the few on Cramer’s list of banks to buy.

Watch the video for Cramer’s full report on FirstMerit.

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