Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now

The Federal Communications Commission will begin work on new rules of the road to promote an open Internet.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced today that he wants the agency’s staff to begin crafting rules that the commission can vote on. Last month, a federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s net neutrality rules requiring broadband providers to treat all Net traffic the same.

Thus, the agency needs new rules to govern its dealings with Internet providers including the ability to transparently monitor Net traffic and to prevent the blocking of sites and services from consumers, Wheeler says. “The FCC must stand strongly behind its responsibility to oversee the public interest standard and ensure that the Internet remains open and fair,” he said in a statement released Wednesday. “The Internet is and must remain the greatest engine of free expression, innovation, economic growth, and opportunity the world has ever known. We must preserve and promote the Interne t.”

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB)

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A., incorporated on September 9, 1943, is a bank in Brazil. The Company has four operational segments: Commercial Banking, Itau BBA, Consumer Credit and Corporate and Treasury. Commercial banking, including insurance, pension plan and capitalization products, credit cards, asset management and a variety of credit products and services for individuals, small and middle-market companies). Itau BBA includes corporate and investment banking. Consumer credit includes financial products and services to its non-accountholders. Corporate and treasury includes the results related to the trading activities in its portfolio, trading related to managing currency, interest rate and other market risk factors, gap management and arbitrage opportunities in domestic and foreign markets. It also includes the results associated with financial income from the investment of its excess capital.

On October 24, 2010, Itau Unibanco completed the integration of customer service locations throughout Brazil. In total, 998 branches and 245 customer site branches (CSB) of Unibanco were redesigned and integrated as Itau Unibanco customer service locations, thus creating a network of approximately 4,700 units in the country under the Itau brand. The Company is a financial holding company controlled by Itau Unibanco Participacoes S.A. (IUPAR). As of December 31, 2010, it had a network of 3,747 service branches throughout Brazil. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 913 CSBs throughout Brazil. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 28,844 automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout Brazil.

Commercial banking

The commercial banking segment offers a range of banking services to a diversified base of individuals and companies. Services offered by the commercial banking segment include insurance, pension plan and capitalization products, credit cards, asset management, credit products and customized products and solutio ns. The commercial banking segment comprises the specialized! areas and products, such as retail banking (individuals); public sector banking; personnalite (banking for high-income individuals); private banking (banking and financial consulting for wealthy individuals); very small business banking; small business banking; middle-market banking; credit cards; real estate financing; asset management; corporate social responsibility fund; securities services for third parties; brokerage, and insurance, private retirement and capitalization products.

The Company’s credit products include personal loans, overdraft protection, payroll loans, vehicles, credit cards, mortgage and agricultural loans, working capital, trade note discount and export. Its investments products include pension plans, mutual funds, time deposits, demand deposit accounts, savings accounts and capitalization plans. Its services include insurance (life, home, credit/cash cards, vehicles, loan protection, among others), exchange, brokerage and others. Its core business is retail banking, which serves individuals with a monthly income below R$7,000. In October 2010, it completed the conversion of branches under the Unibanco brand to the Itau brand and as of December 31, 2010, it had over 15.2 million customers and 4,660 branches and CSBs. Its public sector business operates in all areas of the public sector, including the federal, state and municipal governments (in the executive, legislative and judicial branches). As of December 31, 2010, it had approximately 2,300 public sector customers. Itau Personnalite’s focus is delivering financial advisory services by its managers, who understand the specific needs of its higher-income customers; a portfolio of exclusive products and services; special benefits based on the type and length of relationship with the customer, including discounts on various products and services. Itau Personnalite’s customer base reached more than 600,000 individuals as of December 31, 2010. Itau Pe rsonnalite customers also have access to Itau Unibanco netwo! rk of bra! nches and ATMs throughout the country, as well as Internet banking and phone.

Itau Private Bank is a Brazilian bank in the global private banking industry, providing wealth management services to approximately 17,951 Latin American clients as of December 31, 2010. The Company serves its customers’ needs for offshore wealth management solutions in major jurisdictions through independent institutions in the United States through Banco Itau Europa International and Itau Europa Securities , in Luxembourg through Banco Itau Europa Luxembourg S.A. , in Switzerland through Banco Itau Suisse , in the Bahamas through BIE Bank & Trust Bahamas and in Cayman through Unicorp Bank & Trust Cayman. As of December 31, 2010, it had over 565 very small business banking offices located throughout Brazil and approximately 2,500 managers working for over 1,235,000 small business customers. Loans to very small businesses totaled R$5,981 million as of December 31, 2010. As of Decembe r 31, 2010, it had 374 small business banking offices located nationwide in Brazil and nearly 2,500 managers who worked for over 525,000 companies. Loans to small businesses totaled R$28,744 million as of December 31, 2010.

As of December 31, 2010, it had approximately 115,000 middle-market corporate customers that represented a range of Brazilian companies located in over 83 cities in Brazil. The Company offers a range of financial products and services to middle-market customers, including deposit accounts, investment options, insurance, private retirement plans and credit products. Credit products include investment capital loans, working capital loans, inventory financing, trade financing, foreign currency services, equipment leasing services, letters of credit and guarantees. The Company also carries out financial transactions on behalf of middle-market customers, including interbank transactions, open market transactions and futures, swaps, hedging and arb itrage transactions. It also offers its middle-market custom! ers colle! ction services and electronic payment services. The Company is able to provide these services for virtually any kind of payment, including Internet office banking. It charges collection fees and fees for making payments, such as payroll, on behalf of its customers.

The Company is engaged in the Brazilian credit card market. Its subsidiaries, Banco Itaucard S.A. (Banco Itaucard) and Hipercard Banco Multiplo S.A. (Hipercard), offers a range of products to 26 million customers as of December 31, 2010, including both accountholders and non-accountholders. As of December 31, 2010, it had approximately R$16,271 million in outstanding real estate loans. As of December 31, 2010, it had total net assets under management of R$291,748 million on behalf of approximately 2.1 million customers. The Company also provides portfolio management services for pension funds, corporations, private bank customers and foreign investors. As of December 31, 2010, it had R$184,496 million of assets under management for pension funds, corporations and private bank customers. As of December 31, 2010, the Company offered and managed about 1,791 mutual funds, which are mostly fixed-income and money market funds. For individual customers, it offered 154 funds to its retail customers and approximately 287 funds to its Itau Personnalite customers. Private banking customers may invest in over 600 funds, including those offered by other institutions. Itau BBA’s capital markets group also provides tailor-made mutual funds to institutional, corporate and private banking customers.

The Company provides securities services in the Brazilian capital markets. Its services also include acting as transfer agent, providing services relating to debentures and promissory notes, custody and control services for mutual funds, pension funds and portfolios, providing trustee services and non-resident investor services, and acting as custodian for depositary receipt pr ograms. The Company also provides brokerage services to inte! rnational! customers through its broker-dealer operations in New York, through its London branch, and through its broker-dealers in Hong Kong and Dubai. Its main lines of insurance are life and casualty (excluding Vida Gerador de Benefucio Livre), extended warranties and property. Its policies are sold through its banking operations, independent local brokers, multinational brokers and other channels. As of December 31, 2010, it had 9.9 million in capitalization products outstanding, representing R$2,620 million in liabilities with assets that function as guarantees of R$2,646 million. The Company distributes these products through its retail network, Itau Personnalite and Itau Uniclass branches, electronic channels and ATMs. These products are sold by its subsidiary, Cia. Itau de Capitalizacao S.A.

Itau BBA

Itau BBA is responsible for its corporate and investment banking activities. As of December 31, 2010, Itau BBA offered a portfolio of products and servic es to approximately 2,400 companies and conglomerates in Brazil. Itau BBA’s activities range from typical operations of a commercial bank to capital markets operations and advisory services for mergers and acquisitions. As of December 31, 2010, its corporate loan portfolio was R$ 76,584 million. In investment banking, the fixed income department was responsible for the issuance of debentures and promissory notes that totaled R$18,888 million and securitization transactions that amounted to R$4,677 million in Brazil in 2010. In addition, Itau BBA advised 35 merger and acquisition transactions with an aggregate deal volume of R$16,973 million in 2010.

Itau BBA is also active in Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES) on-lending to finance large-scale projects, aiming at strengthening domestic infrastructure. In consolidated terms, total loans granted by Itau BBA under BNDES on-lending represented more than R$9,010 million in 2010. Itau BBA f ocuses on the products and initiatives in the international ! business ! unit, such as structuring long-term, bilateral and syndicated financing, and spot foreign exchange. In addition, in 2010 Itau BBA continued to offer a large number of lines of credit for foreign trade.

Consumer Credit

As of December 31, 2010, its portfolio of vehicle financing, leasing and consortium lending consisted of approximately 3.8 million contracts, of which approximately 71.1% were non-accountholder customers. The personal loan portfolio relating to vehicle financing and leasing reached R$60,254 million in 2010. The Company leased and financed vehicles through 13,706 dealers as of December 31, 2010. Sales are made through computer terminals installed in the dealerships that are connected to its computer network. Redecard S.A. (Redecard) is a multibrand credit card provider in Brazil, also responsible for the capturing, transmission, processing and settlement of credit, debit and benefit card transactions. As of December 31, 2010, the Compan y held approximately 50% interest in Redecard’s capital stock.

The Company competes with Bradesco, Banco do Brasil S.A. (Banco do Brasil), Banco Santander, Caixa Economica Federal (CEF), BNDES, HSBC, Banco Citibank S.A, Banco de Investimentos Credit Suisse (Brasil) S.A., Banco JP Morgan S.A., Banco Morgan Stanley S.A., Banco Merrill Lynch de Investimentos S.A., Banco BTG Pactual S.A., Banco Panamericano S.A, Citibank S.A., Banco GE Capital S.A. and Banco Ibi S.A.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Cencosud is one of the largest retailers in Latin America. It operates grocery stores, home improvement stores and department stores in five countries including Chile, its home base. Its stock is down 51% over the past year for several reasons, including a deal falling through that would have seen it sell 51% of its credit card operations in Chile and Argentina to Itau Unibanco (ITUB) and using the proceeds to reduce its heavy debt load. Add to that a major devaluation of the peso in Argentina, where it generates a quarter of its overall revenue, and you have investors in a full-on panic.

  • [By Charles Sizemore]

    And speaking of top dividend stocks with high capital gains potential, next on the list of are Brazilian banking groups Banco Bradesco (BBD) and Banco Itau (ITUB) — two monthly dividend stocks you must consider.

  • [By Hilary Kramer]

    Itau Unibanco (ITUB): A lot of investors have never heard of Itau because it’s headquartered in Brazil, but it’s one of the world’s largest financial institutions. With 5,000 branches, 100,000 employees and nearly $500 billion in assets (yes, half a trillion!), ITUB is not just the largest Latin American bank, it is one of the biggest in the world. With proven dominance in Brazil (and Latin America), Itau Unibanco is a go-to financial pick, and it currently yields an attractive 3.5%. I recently recommended that my Inner Circle readers sell ITUB on a nice bounce due to the risk of near-term weakness on economic data out of China, but I’m already looking for an opportunity to get back in.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANEWF)

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) provides a range of banking and financial products and services to retail, small business, corporate and institutional clients. The Company conducts its operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. It also operates in a range of other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The Company operates on a divisional structure with Australia, International and Institutional Banking (IIB), New Zealand, and Global Wealth and Private Banking. As of September 30, 2012, the Company had 1,337 branches and other points of representation worldwide, excluding automatic teller machines (ATMs). In September 2012, it sold its remaining shareholding in Visa Inc. In May 2013, the Company ceased to be substantial holder in respect of ING Private Equity Access Limited. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australia stocks enjoyed early Monday gains after an advance for commodities and U.S. stocks since the last session, with a relatively good reception for earnings. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) improved by 0.4% to 5,376.30, with miners tracking gains in gold and copper. Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) added 1.3%, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) traded 1.1% higher, while gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. (AU:KCN) (KSKGF) rallied 2.2% and 4.7%, respectively. Banks rose after Wall Street shares climbed on Friday, with National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) up 1% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) adding 0.9%, though Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) dropped 2.4% as it traded without rights to its latest dividend. Coal transport firm Aurizon Holdings Ltd. (AU:AZJ) (QRNNF) tacked on 2.1% as its fiscal first-half underlying profit increased 18%, though net profit f

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australian stocks shimmied lower in early Tuesday trade, with earnings news moving the share prices of some major names. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) moved off a flat open to trade down 0.1% at 5,218.50 after rising 1.1% the previous day. Financial blue chip Macquarie Group Ltd. (AU:MQG) (MCQEF) lost 2.7% following the release of its operational update, with broker BBY telling Dow Jones Newswires that the quarterly statement was very similar to its previous update, signaling no change to earnings expectations. Shares of Cochlear Ltd. (AU:COH) (CHEOF) , the world’s top hearing-implant maker, snapped 9.1% lower after the firm posted a larger-than-expected 73% drop in profit from a year earlier. However, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) managed to rise 0.5% after reporting a quarterly profit gain of more than 20% with fewer non-performing loans. Meanwhile, further gains for gold overnight lifted Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) by 1.3%, Evolution Mining Ltd. (AU:EVN) (CAHPF) by 2.5% and St. Barbara Ltd. (AU:SBM) by 3%. On the downside for miners, Paladin Energy Ltd. (AU:PDN) (PALAF) lost 2.5% as selling surfac

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australia stocks rose early Thursday, with miners leading the way higher after a positive production report from Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) , while overall sentiment got a lift from U.S. gains overnight. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) improved by 0.6% to 5,274.30, with shares of Rio Tinto rising 2.2% after reporting record high iron-ore shipments for 2013 and a sold gain for copper output. Rio’s peers also advanced, with BHP Billiton Ltd. (AU:BHP) (BHP) up 1.7%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) ahead by 3.2%, and Oz Minerals Ltd. (AU:OZL) (OZMLF) adding 2.4%. Among the gold producers, Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) surged 7.2% as J.P. Morgan raised its rating on the shares to overweight from neutral. Banks weren’t as lucky, however, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) down 0.3%, while Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBNF) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) lost 0.7% each as Citibank downgraded the trio t

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: GAIN Capital Holdings Inc (GCAP)

GAIN Capital Holdings Inc. (GAIN Capital) is an independent provider of online forex trading. GAIN Capital offers online trading services, specializing in foreign exchange (FX), contracts for difference (CFDs) and equities to retail and institutional traders worldwide. GAIN Capital provides execution, clearing, custody and technology products and services to an institutional client base, including asset managers, broker/dealers and other financial services firms. GAIN Capital’s trading services include FOREX.com, GAIN GTX, GAIN Securities and Asset Management. In September 2012, it acquired Open E Cry, LLC from optionsXpress Holdings, Inc., which is a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation. Effective September 24, 2013, GAIN Capital Holdings Inc acquired the entire share capital of Global Futures & Forex Ltd, a provider of retail forex and derivative trading services.

FOREX.com

GAIN Capital’s FOREX.com is used by self-directed retail tra ders and professional money managers in over 140 countries worldwide. FOREX.com provides a range of trading interfaces, such as FOREXTrader PRO, Website Trading, FOREXTrader Mobile and MetaTrader4.

GAIN GTX

GAIN GTX offers a range of automated and manual strategies on both the buy and sell side. Automated trading strategies can be programmed and executed using a Java or Financial Information Exchange (FIX)-based Academic Performance Index (API). It is used by individual traders, hedge funds and financial institutions.

GAIN Securities

GAIN Securities is a brokerage firm offering customers access to a full suite of investment products and trading services, including equities, equity and FX options, exchange traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and fixed income. It is used by individual investors.

Asset Management

GAIN Capital’s Managed Forex Account Program (MAC) is offered by GAIN Capital Asset Manage ment LLC (GCAM, LLC). MAC provides qualified institutional i! nvestors access to the FX market.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By The GeoTeam]

    We also look for companies going through defining events that can significantly change their growth trajectory. One of these situations is a transformative acquisition, such as one that Gain Capital Holdings (GCAP) is in the process of consummating. We coded GCAP a GeoBargain on June 6, 2013, at $5.30. On June 12, 2013 we released our bullish thesis for GCAP on Seeking Alpha, "Double Your Gains With Gain Capital Holdings." Fast forward just 3 months from the time of our release and the stock has lived up to our title, returning investors over 100% so far.

  • [By John Udovich]

    Small cap stocks FXCM Inc (NYSE: FXCM), Gain Capital Holdings Inc (NYSE: GCAP) and up and coming Indo Global Exchanges PteLtd (OTCMKTS: IGEX) all offer online trading platforms to retail or institutional traders and investors. Certainly if you have found yourself trading more lately or if markets become more volatile, trading platforms are going to be the big winners. With that in mind, here is a close look at these three small cap trading platform stocks: 

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Simplicity Bancorp Inc (SMPL)

Simplicity Bancorp Inc., formerly K-Fed Bancorp, is a federally-chartered stock holding company. K-Fed Bancorp is a wholly owned subsidiary of K-Fed Mutual Holding Company (the MHC), a federally-chartered mutual holding company. K-Fed Bancorp operates through its subsidiary, Kaiser Federal Bank (the Bank), a federally chartered stock savings bank, which provides retail and commercial banking services to individuals and business customers from its nine branch and financial service center locations throughout California. The Bank is a community-oriented financial institution offering a variety of financial services. The Bank’s principal business activity consists of attracting retail deposits from the general public and originating primarily loans secured by first mortgages on owner-occupied one-to-four family residences and multi-family residences located in its market area and, to a lesser extent, automobile and other consumer loans. Its revenues are derived principally from interest on loans and mortgage-backed and related securities. It also generates revenue from service charges and other income. The Bank offers a variety of deposit accounts having a range of interest rates and terms, which generally include savings accounts, money market accounts, demand deposit accounts and certificate of deposit accounts with varied terms ranging from 90 days to 5 years.

Lending Activities

The Bank originates consumer loans, primarily automobile loans. As of June 30, 2010, its net loan portfolio totaled $758 million, which constituted 87.4% of its total assets. As of June 30, 2010, the Bank’s first lien one-to-four family residential mortgage loans totaled $335.6 million, or 43.5%, of its gross loan portfolio. It originates one-to-four family mortgage loans on a fixed rate and adjustable rate basis. As of June 30, 2010, the Bank’s one-to-four family adjustable rate mortgage loan portfolio totaled $58.6 million, or 7.6% o f its gross loan portfolio. As of June 30, 2010, the fixed r! ate one-to-four family mortgage loan portfolio totaled $276.9 million, or 35.9% of its gross loan portfolio. Included in non-accrual loans at June 30, 2010, were $2.9 million in adjustable rate one-to-four family mortgage loans and $21.9 million in fixed rate one-to-four family mortgage loans.

The Bank also offers multi-family residential real estate loans. These loans are secured by real estate located in its primary market areas, within the state of California. As of June 30, 2010, multi-family residential loans totaled $278.4 million, or 36.1%, of its gross loan portfolio, and consists of 415 loans outstanding with an average loan balance of approximately $670,000. It offers a variety of secured consumer loans, including home equity lines of credit, new and used automobile loans, and loans secured by savings deposits. It also offers a limited amount of unsecured loans. At June 30, 2010, the Bank’s consumer loan portfolio, exclusive of automobile loans, tot aled $13.8 million, or 1.8%, of its gross loan portfolio.

Investment Activities

The Bank is authorized to invest in various types of liquid assets, including the United States Treasury obligations, securities of various federal agencies, certain certificates of deposit of insured banks and savings institutions, certain bankers’ acceptances, repurchase agreements and federal funds. At June 30, 2010, the Bank’s investment portfolio totaled $6 million and consisted principally of investment grade collateralized mortgage obligations and mortgage-backed securities. It invests in mortgage-backed securities insured or guaranteed by Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) or Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae). As of June 30, 2010, it also had an investment in an affordable housing fund totaling $1.2 million.

Sources of Funds

The Bank’s sourc es of funds are deposits, payment of principal and interest ! on loans,! interest earned on or maturity of investment securities, borrowings, and funds provided from operations. It offers a variety of deposit accounts to consumers with a range of interest rates and terms. Its deposits consist of time deposit accounts, savings, money market and demand deposit accounts. The Bank’s borrowings consist of advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. It may obtain advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco upon the security of its mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities. As of June 30, 2010, the Bank had $137 million in Federal Home Loan Bank advances outstanding. At June 30, 2010, it had available additional advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of San Francisco in the amount of $219.1 million.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tim Melvin]

    HBCP stock is trading at 94% of book value and is very attractive at the current price.

    Simplicity Bancorp (SMPL)

    Simplicity Bancorp (SMPL) in Covina, Calif., started out decades ago as a credit union for employees of the Kaiser Foundation Hospital. It has since grown to a nine-branch bank with $834 million in assets. SMPL had its conversion IPO back in 2010, and is an extremely attractive takeover target right now. The bank’s equity-to-asset ratio is 16, and nonperforming assets are less than 2% of the total, so that’s a solid financial condition to be in.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Customers Bancorp Inc (CUBI)

Customers Bancorp, Inc. (Customers Bancorp), incorporated in April 2010, through its wholly owned subsidiary Customers Bank (the Bank), provides financial products and services to small businesses, not-for-profits and consumers through its fourteen branches in Southeastern Pennsylvania (Bucks, Berks, Chester and Delaware Counties), Rye, New York (Westchester County) and Hamilton, New Jersey (Mercer County). Customers Bank also provides liquidity to the mortgage market worldwide through the operation of its mortgage warehouse business. As of December 31, 2011, Customers Bancorp had total assets of $2.08 billion, including net loans (including held for sale loans) of $1.50 billion, total deposits of $1.58 billion. The Company offers a range of banking products and financial services to its commercial and consumer customers in Suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Central New Jersey and Southeastern New York. It offers a range of lending products to cater to its customers’ n eeds, including small business loans, mortgage warehouse loans, multi-family and commercial real estate loans, residential mortgage loans and consumer loans. It also offers traditional depository products, including commercial and consumer checking accounts, non-interest-bearing demand accounts, money market deposit accounts, savings accounts and time deposit accounts and cash management services. On September 17, 2011, Customers Bank became a wholly owned subsidiary of Customers Bancorp. On September 17, 2011, Customers Bancorp acquired Berkshire Bancorp, Inc. and its subsidiary Berkshire Bank. In May 2013, Customers Bancorp Inc merged with CMS Bancorp Inc.

Lending Activities

The Company focuses its lending efforts to the lending areas, such as commercial lending, which includes business, small business and multi-family and commercial real estate lending; specialty Lending, which include warehouse lending, and consumer lending, which include local market mortgage lending and home equity lending. It also pr! ovide warehouse financing worldwide and multi-family lending in the Mid-Atlantic States.

The Bank’s commercial lending is segmented into three groups, which include multi-family and commercial real estate, business banking and small business banking. The small business banking platform originates loans, including small business administration loans, through the branch network sales force and a team of dedicated small business relationship managers. During the year ended December 31, 2011, it originated and closed $121.5 million of multi-family loans commitments. As of December 31, 2011, it had $536.9 million in commercial loans outstanding, comprising approximately 35.3% of its total loan portfolio (which includes loans held for sale). During 2011, it originated and closed $167.7 million of commercial loans and commitments. As of December 31, 2011, loans in its warehouse lending portfolio, as well as loans held for sale totaled $794.3 million outstanding, comp rising approximately 52.3% of its total loan portfolio (which includes loans held for sale). During the year ended December 31, 2011, it funded $7.7 billion of mortgage loans under warehouse facilities.

The Company offers a range of deposit products to its customers, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and other deposit accounts, including fixed-rate, fixed-maturity retail time deposits ranging in terms from 30 days to five years, individual retirement accounts, and non-retail time deposits consisting of jumbo certificates greater than or equal to $100,000. As of December 31, 2011, its deposit portfolio was consisted of 54.9% of core deposits. Its financial products include Internet banking, wire transfers, electronic bill payment, lock box services, remote deposit capture services, courier services, merchant processing services, cash vault, controlled disbursements, positive pay and cash management services (including account re conciliation, collections and sweep accounts).

! Sources o! f Fund

The Company offers a range of deposit accounts, including checking, savings, money market and time deposits. Deposits are obtained primarily from its service area. As of December 31, 2011, the total deposits grew to $1.58 billion.

Investment Activities

The Company’s investment securities portfolio consists of United States Treasury, government agency and mortgage-backed securities (guaranteed by an agency of the United States government and non-agency guaranteed), municipal securities, domestic corporate debt, and asset-backed securities. In addition to generating revenue, it maintains the investment portfolio to manage interest rate risk, provide liquidity, provide collateral for other borrowings and diversify the credit risk of earning assets. As of December 31, 2011, $79.1 million of its investment securities were classified as available for sale (AFS). As of December 31, 2011, the fair value of its investment securities por tfolio was approximately $409.9 million. As of December 31, 2011, it held $319.5 million of investment securities that were classified as held to maturity (HTM).

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Smith]

    Wyomissing, Pa.-based Customers Bancorp (NASDAQ: CUBI  ) has a new CFO.

    On Tuesday, Customers Bancorp announced that Interim Chief Financial Officer James D. Hogan intends to retire from the bank on Aug. 13. Replacing Hogan will be Robert E. Wahlman, a new hire from Doral Financial, who will join Customers initially in the post of executive vice president on Aug. 5, and then be promoted to permanent CFO on the 13th.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Woori Finance Holdings Co Ltd (WF)

Woori Finance Holdings Co., Ltd., incorporated on March 27, 2001, is a financial holding company. The Company serves over 24 million corporate and retail customers with a range of financial services, including commercial banking, credit card, capital market, international banking, wealth management and bancassurance services. The Company’s domestic network consists of more than 1,300 branches and 8,500 cash terminals. Its banking subsidiaries include Woori Bank, Kwangju Bank and Kyongnam Bank. Its non-banking subsidiaries include Woori Investment & Securities, Woori AVIVA Life Insurance, Woori CS Asset Management, Woori Financial, Woori Finance Information System, Woori F&I and Woori Private Equity.The Company established a new wholly owned subsidiary, on March 16, 2011. The new entity is mainly engaged in banking business.

The Company’s products in retail banking include Low-Carbon Green Deposit, Mommy Relief Deposit, Plus Savings Deposit, Plus Revolving Time Deposit, Solid Success Time Installment Deposit and Happy Time Installment Deposit. Mommy Relief Deposit facilitates response to locate missing children; the fingerprints of children under 10 are digitally recorded by the bank and made instantly available nationwide if the child should go missing. Plus Savings Deposit is a fixed-interest installment-based time deposit account that offers preferential rates to customers who also apply for credit card products. It also provides bonus services for special occasions and foreign travel. Plus Revolving Time Deposit is a compound-interest time deposit especially for customers who want to access their funds in under three months. Solid Success Time Installment Deposit is a time installment deposit product for business owners. It offers a sliding scale of interest rates if the customer purchases additional products, such as a retirement annuity. Happy Time Installment Deposit is a fixed-interest time installment deposit account for individuals. It also provides extra services for occasio! ns, such as weddings, overseas trips and the birth of a child.

The Company provides one-stop services to corporate clients through joint account management by Woori Bank, Woori Investment & Securities, Woori CS Asset Management and Woori Private Equity. It also carries out various sales and marketing activities to promote its products and services to domestic companies of all sizes. The Company supports small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). In addition to financial products, it also provides professional consulting services. Woori Bank ahs developed the Woori Robot Era Loan and Woori Green Solar Loan. To help family-owned businesses, Woori Bank operates the Woori Family Business Succession Consulting program.

Woori Bank has an investment banking firm in Hong Kong. Woori Financial Group acts as a developer of client specific derivatives. Woori Bank acts as a dealer in overseas index products, including NIKKEI and HSCEI-indexed derivatives. The Ba nk also sells comForex, combining F/X and spot transactions. As of December 31, 2009, the Company had 9.3 million cardholders. Woori Financial Group provides its private banking clients with financial solutions. Woori Bank has consulting centers for private banking customers, which offers advice on taxes, real estate, asset management, overseas investments and financing solutions for emigrants and students studying abroad.

The Company provides wealth management solutions for its customers. Octo is the name of Woori Investment & Securities wealth management service for high-networth individuals. Octo customers can use a single platform to buy and sell equity-linked securities, bonds, repurchase agreements, bills and beneficiary certificates, and access their cash management accounts. The Company provides professional advice and a range of consumer insurance products to its clients. It offers a portfolio of 61 insurance products, which includes 35 life insurance, and 26 property and casualty. Woori CS Asset Management has! one exch! ange traded funds and 63 other products, including structured products, overseas asset funds and index funds.

Woori Finance Information System has developed integrated customer relationship management (CRM) and Groupware systems, information technology (IT) systems for Woori Bank’s overseas branches and a credit risk management system for Woori Investment & Securities. The Company also deployed a standardized asset & liability management system and an imaging system for managing utility bill payments. The Company has also integrated the IT infrastructure of Woori CS Asset Management, Woori AVIVA Life Insurance and Woori Financial into its system.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Question: Is Berkshire too big to fail? How about DF and how does it impact insurance and Wells Fargo (WF) and Goldman Sachs (GS)?

    Warren: It won’t affect it to my knowledge. Capital ratios for long banks at high levels and affects return on equity. Cap ratios increase and return on equity will increase. Banking in the U.S. is stronger than in the past 20 years. Compared to the EU or 20 years ago, it’s dramatically stronger. Don’t worry about banking being the cause of the next bubble. Usually we don’t get to a bubble the same way we got to the last one. I feel good about our investments at MNT and WFC. We won’t earn as much return on equity because the rules change.

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Question: Is Berkshire too big to fail? How about DF and how does it impact insurance and Wells Fargo (WF) and Goldman Sachs (GS).

    Warren: It won’t affect it to my knowledge. Capital ratios for long banks at high levels and affects return on equity. Cap ratios increase and return on equity will increase. Banking in the U.S. is stronger than in the past 20 years. Compared to the EU or 20 years ago, it’s dramatically stronger. Don’t worry about banking being the cause of the next bubble. Usually we don’t get to a bubble the same way we got to the last one. I feel good about our investments at MNT and WFC. We won’t earn as much return on equity because the rules change.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: ASB Bancorp Inc (ASBB)

ASB Bancorp, Inc. (ASB Bancorp), incorporated in May 2011, focuses to become the holding company for Asheville Savings Bank, S.S.B. (Asheville Savings Bank). ASB Bancorp, Inc.’s business activity will be the ownership of the Asheville Savings Bank. Asheville Savings Bank is a chartered savings bank. It operates as a community-oriented financial institution offering traditional financial services to consumers and businesses in its market area. It attracts deposits from the general public and use those funds to originate one-to four-family residential mortgage loans and commercial real estate loans, and home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer loans, construction and land development loans, and commercial and industrial loans. It conducts its lending and deposit activities with individuals and small businesses in its primary market area. Its market area is Asheville, North Carolina and the rest of Buncombe County where it has eight branch offices, as well as Henders on, Madison, McDowell and Transylvania Counties where it has five branch offices.

Lending Activities

Asheville Savings Bank loan portfolio include real estate mortgage loans, including one- to four-family residential mortgage loans and commercial mortgage loans, and revolving mortgage loans, which consist of home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer loans, construction and land development loans, and commercial and industrial loans. As of March 31, 2011, it had $177.8 million in one- to four-family residential loans, which represented 36.7% of its total loan portfolio. Its origination of residential mortgage loans enables borrowers to purchase or refinance existing homes located in its primary market area. It offers a mix of adjustable rate mortgage loans and fixed-rate mortgage loans with terms of up to 30 years.

Asheville Savings Bank offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgage loans secured by non-residential real estate and mu lti-family properties. As of March 31, 2011, commercial mort! gage loans totaled $162.7 million, or 33.5% of its total loan portfolio. Its commercial mortgage loans are secured by commercial, industrial and manufacturing, small to moderately-sized office and retail properties, hotels, multi-family properties and hospitals and churches located in its primary market area. As of March 31, 2011, $35.6 million or 21.9% of its commercial real estate loans were secured by owner-occupied properties. It originates fixed-rate and adjustable-rate commercial mortgage loans, generally with terms of three to five years and payments based on an amortization schedule of up to 25 years. It has originated construction and land development loans for commercial properties, such as retail shops and office units, and multi-family properties, and construction and land development loans for one-to four-family homes. As of March 31, 2011, commercial construction and land development loans totaled $27.8 million, which represented 5.7% of its total loan portfoli o, and residential construction and land development loans totaled $7.9 million, which represented 1.6% of its total loan portfolio. As of March 31, 2011, it had speculative residential construction loans of $3.1 million and speculative commercial construction loans of $9.6 million.

Asheville Savings Bank offers revolving mortgage loans, which consist of home equity loans and lines of credit, and various consumer loans, including automobile loans and loans secured by deposits. As of March 31, 2011, revolving mortgage loans totaled $52 million, or 10.7% of its total loan portfolio, and consumer loans totaled $41.1 million, or 8.5% of its total loan portfolio. Its revolving mortgage loans consist of both home equity loans with fixed-rate amortizing term loans with terms of up to 15 years and adjustable rate lines of credit with interest rates indexed to the prime rate.

Asheville Savings Bank offers commercial and industrial loans to small businesses located in its primary market area. As of March 31, 2011, co! mmercial ! and industrial loans totaled $15.8 million, which represented 3.2% of its total loan portfolio. Its commercial and industrial loan portfolio consists of loans, which are secured by equipment, accounts receivable and inventory, but also includes a smaller amount of unsecured loans for purposes of financing expansion or providing working capital for general business purposes.

Investment Activities

As of March 31, 2011, Asheville Savings Bank’s investment portfolio consisted of the United States government and agency securities, mortgage-backed securities and securities issued by government sponsored enterprises, and municipal securities. As of March 31, 2011, its securities portfolio represented 27.2% of total assets. As of March 31, 2011, $198.6 million of its securities portfolio was classified as available for sale and $5.7 million of its securities portfolio was classified as held to maturity. Securities classified as held to maturity are United States government sponsored securities, mortgage-backed securities and state and local government securities. As of March 31, 2011, it had four million dollars of other investments, at cost, which consisted of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

Sources of Funds

Deposits, borrowings and loan repayments are the sources of Asheville Savings Bank funds for lending and other investment purposes. It uses advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta to supplement its investable funds. The Federal Home Loan Bank functions as a central reserve bank providing credit for member financial institutions. Advances are made under several different programs, each having its own interest rate and range of maturities. It also utilizes securities sold under agreements to repurchase and overnight repurchase agreements to supplement its supply of investable funds and to meet deposit withdrawal requirements.

Subsidiaries

Asheville Saving s Bank has two subsidiaries, Appalachian Financial Services,! Inc., wh! ich was formed to engage in investment activities, and Wenoca, Inc., which serves as Asheville Savings Bank’s trustee regarding deeds of trust. Both subsidiaries are organized as North Carolina corporations.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tim Melvin]

    ASB Bancorp (ASBB) is the holding company for Ashville in western North Carolina. The bank has 13 branches and total assets of around $733 million. Nonperforming assets are just 2.1% of total assets and the bank is massively over-reserved for future losses, with loan reserves at 6 times nonperforming loans. The bank bought back 544,494 shares of common stock at an average price of $16.79 per share in 2013. The board just authorized a new 5% buyback in January 2014. The stock is trading around 80% of book value, so management is buying the shares on the cheap — and that should bode well for shareholders in the future.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Akbank TAS (AKBNK)

Akbank TAS (Akbank) is a Turkey-based commercial bank. The Bank operates in five segments: the Retail banking segment offers a range of retail services, such as deposit accounts, consumer loans, commercial installment loans, credit cards, insurance products and asset management services; the Corporate and Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) banking segment provides financial solutions and banking services to large, medium and small size corporate and commercial customers; the Treasury Activities segment conducts regional and foreign currency spot and forward transactions, treasury bonds, government bonds, Eurobond and private sector bond transactions, as well as derivative trading activities; the Private banking segment offers banking and investment transactions for upper-income groups, and the International banking segment provides services for foreign trade financing, foreign currency and Turkish Lira (TL) clearances, and money transfers through agent financial institut ions. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Julia Leite]

    Turkey’s equity benchmark rallied as Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS and Akbank TAS (AKBNK) advanced at least 5.4 percent. The lira gained for the fourth day.

  • [By Anuchit Nguyen]

    The Borsa Istanbul National 100 Index capped the longest slide since July 26 as Akbank TAS (AKBNK) and Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS dropped at least 2.9 percent.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS)

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is an Italy-based company engaged in the banking sector. It provides traditional banking services, asset management and private banking, including life insurance, pension funds and investment trusts. It operates though three business segments. The Retail Banking segment covers consumer lending, insurance, provision of financial and non-financial services to retail customers, wealth management, tax planning, financial advisory and planning for private customers. The Corporate Banking division oversees the Group’s business strategies targeted to small and medium enterprises, institutions and large corporate for which it offers leasing, factoring, lending and financial products, among others. The Corporate Center segment includes the cancellation of intergroup entries, treasure, governance and support functions. In January 2014, the Company completed the sale of its entire shareholding in Sorin SpA, equal to approximately 5.7%. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Corinne Gretler]

    Kesko Oyj, Finland’s biggest publicly traded retailer, rallied 9 percent. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS) added 2 percent as Italy’s third-largest lender set out a plan to return to profit after cutting costs and raising capital as part of its restructuring plan. Speedy Hire Plc sank the most since 2009 after the construction-equipment leasing company said it found evidence of false accounting at one of its units.

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: National Australia Bank Ltd (NAUBF)

National Australia Bank Limited is a financial services organization providing products, advice and services through its major Australian franchise and businesses. The Company’s segment includes Business Banking, Personal Banking, Wholesale Banking, UK Banking and NZ Banking, MLC and NAB, Great Western Bank (GWB), the Corporate Functions and Other segment. MLC is the wealth management division of the National Australia Bank (NAB). In January 2014, Sandfire Resources NL announced that National Australia Bank Limited and its associated entities have ceased to be the substantial holder of the Company. In January 2014, Commonwealth Property Office Fund announced that National Australia Bank Ltd and its associated entities have ceased to be a substantial shareholder in Commonwealth Property Office Fund. In February 2014, Fairfax Media Ltd announced that National Australia Bank Ltd and its associated entities ceased holding interest in the capital of the Company. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australia stocks enjoyed early Monday gains after an advance for commodities and U.S. stocks since the last session, with a relatively good reception for earnings. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) improved by 0.4% to 5,376.30, with miners tracking gains in gold and copper. Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) added 1.3%, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) traded 1.1% higher, while gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. (AU:KCN) (KSKGF) rallied 2.2% and 4.7%, respectively. Banks rose after Wall Street shares climbed on Friday, with National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) up 1% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) adding 0.9%, though Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) dropped 2.4% as it traded without rights to its latest dividend. Coal transport firm Aurizon Holdings Ltd. (AU:AZJ) (QRNNF) tacked on 2.1% as its fiscal first-half underlying profit increased 18%, though net profit f

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australian stocks started Monday trade higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) up 0.8% at 5,206.40 after a strong finish for Wall Street at the end of last week. Resource shares got a lift from gains for commodities prices since the previous trading session, with strong advances for gold and copper and a more than 2% rise for New York-traded crude-oil futures. Among the leading gainers, Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) added 1.2%, Oil Search Ltd. (AU:OSH) (OISHF) climbed 1.3%, and gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) and Evolution Mining Ltd. (AU:EVN) (CAHPF) improved by 3.9% and 6.4%, respectively. The heavily weighted banking sector also enjoyed solid gains, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) up 1%, Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBNF) trading 1.3% higher, and National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) rising 1.1% as the U.K.’s Sunday Times reported the lender is considering a £2 billion ($3.3 billion) float of its British operations, which the report said had dragged on NAB’s results in recent years.

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australian stocks inched lower in early Friday trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) down 0.1% at 5,322.00, with weakness in miners outweighing mild strength in financials. Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd. (AU:BHP) (BHP) and Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) fell 1.4% apiece, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) lost 2.2% and gold miner Evolution Mining Ltd. (AU:EVN) (CAHPF) lost 0.8%, after copper prices fell to two-week lows and Chinese steel futures also lost ground, according to Reuters. The sector could react to Chinese trade data due out later in the day, as China remains a top market for Australian commodities. Stock in Alumina Ltd. (AU:AWC) (AWCMF) retreated 2.6% after its U.S. partner Alcoa Inc. (AA) posted a quarterly loss. On the upside, the big four banks all traded higher, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) up 0.1%, National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) rising 0.2%, Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBN

Best Bank Stocks To Own Right Now: Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)

The Bank of Nova Scotia (the Bank) is a diversified financial institution. As of October 31, 2011, the Bank offered a range of products and services, including retail, commercial, corporate and investment banking to more than 18.6 million customers in more than 50 countries around the world. The Bank has four business lines: Canadian Banking, International Banking, Scotia Capital and Global Wealth Management. In January 2012, the Company closed its acquisition of 51% of Banco Colpatria. In April 2012, the Company through Scotia Capital Inc. acquired Howard Weil Incorporated. In April 2013, Bank of Nova Scotia acquired a 50% interest in Administradora de Fondos de Pensiones Horizonte SA. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Mike Deane]

    Before the opening bell today, The Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) announced its fourth quarter earnings, posting higher net income than last year’s same quarter. 

    BNS Earnings in Brief

    -BNS reported Q4 net income of $1.7 billion, up 12% from last year’s Q4 net income of $1.52 billion.
    -Adjusted diluted EPS came in at $1.31, up from last year’s Q4 EPS of $1.20.
    -The company’s EPS matched analysts’ EPS estimates.
    -For the full year, BNS reported net income of $6.7 billion, and EPS per diluted share of $5.15.

    CEO Commentary

    Brian Porter, Scotiabank President and CEO, had the following to say about the company’s fiscal year: “Scotiabank experienced another year of solid performance with underlying earnings growing 15%. The Bank’s enterprise strategy and diversified business model continue to differentiate us from our competitors in Canada and internationally and once again have enabled us to deliver strong results.”

    Dividend Declared

    BNS declared a quarterly dividend of 62 cents, which will be paid on January 29, 2014 to all shareholders of record on January 7, 2014. The stock goes ex-dividend on January 3. BNS most recently its dividend in October this year, where the dividend increased from 60 to 62 cents.

    Stock Performance

    BNS stock was inactive in pre-market trading. YTD, the stock is up just 2.06%, lagging the broader market.

  • [By Will Ashworth]

    TD Rating: 7.5

    Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)

    Dividend Yield: 3.9%

    The last of the major Canadian banks is Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS). Not known for its Canadian retail banking, its biggest calling cards are its businesses outside of Canada in Latin America and Asia. Analysts expect it to deliver a 9.1% increase in adjusted net income in the fourth quarter to C$1.6 billion, 47% of which will come from outside of Canada.