3 Funds Banking on Financial Stocks
Some mutual fund portfolio managers argue that financial stocks can continue climbing. The managers have big stakes in banks, insurance companies and money managers.
The bullish mutual funds are in a distinct minority. Many portfolio managers remain wary of the sector, concerned that profits could be hurt by new regulations in the U.S. and the continuing crisis in Europe. But Nate Snyder, portfolio manager of Snow Capital Opportunity, argues that the fears are excessive.
"We have endured the worst financial crisis in 70 years," he says. "The next big crisis is not likely for another 70 years. From here on, everything should improve."
Snow Capital, a large value fund, has 36.7% of assets in financials, compared to 12.4% for the S&P 500. Snyder says that many financials are cheap, based on book value -- the measure of a company's assets minus liabilities. In the past, financials typically sold for more than their book values. But now Snyder says that many solid companies sell for substantially less than their book values.
"When a stock sells for less than book, it means that investors are worried about the earnings or they question whether the business is viable," he says.
Snyder is particularly keen on life insurers, including MetLife(MET) , which has a price/book ratio of 0.63, and Prudential Financial(PRU) , with a ratio of 0.76. He concedes that life insurers are depressed because of headwinds they face.