ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The financial sector and related exchange traded funds are among the cheapest areas of the U.S. markets, with some major banks trading under their stated book value per share.

After most of the financial industry revealed quarterly earnings, seven big banks are still trading below their book value, reports Jon C. Ogg for 24/7 Wall St. Book value is an accounting value that tallies the total value of a company’s asset, minus liabilities and intangibles, and compares it to the company’s market value.

For starters, among the largest banks in the industry, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) is trading at a 0.8 P/B and Citigroup (NYSE: C) has a 0.9 P/B.

Additionally, Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF) and First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FNFG) both remain priced at a discount to its stated book value, with a 0.9 P/B each, followed by Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ: ZION) 1.0 P/B, Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUSQ) 0.9 P/B and Hancock Holding Company (NASDAQ: HBHC) 0.9 P/B.

ETF investors can also track the financial space through broad sector ETFs, including the iShares U.S. Financials ETF (NYSEArca: IYF), Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) and Vanguard Financials ETF (NYSEArca: VFH). These broad market capitalization-weighted ETFs include heavy exposure to the major banks. [Financial ETFs Are the Place to Be]

For instance, IYF includes BAC 4.6%, C 4.3%, RF 0.3%, FNFG 0.1%, ZION 0.2%, SUSQ 0.6% and HBHC 0.5%. XLF holds BAC 6.1%, C 5.7%, RF 0.5% and ZION 0.2%. VFH tracks BAC 4.5% and C 4.2%.

The financial sector ETFs are also cheap relative to the broader S&P 500 Index. IYF shows a 1.4 P/B, XLF has a 1.3 P/B and VFH is trading at a 1.3 P/B. In contrast, the S&P 500 has a 2.5 P/B.

However, the cheapness of U.S. banks belies the strength of the financial sector. Over few years, banks have shed unprofitable businesses and assets while bulking up capital to return some to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“There’s clearly more turmoil in other parts of the world than there is in the U.S.,” James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chairman and chief executive, told the WSJ. “And we think that there’s a potential for, over a period of time, share gain for our business.”

For more information on the financials sector, visit our financial category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of IYF.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.