Looking ahead, analysts project small-cap bank stocks to increase earnings by 22% this year and 11% in the next, compared to a 6% and 10% rise for those in the S&P 500.

Related: Potential With a Small-Cap Bank ETF

Moreover, after underperforming the broader market, financials may soon get their moment in the sun as a value play.

“The bottom line is that banks and financial stocks in general are finally back in the hunt. They are far from market leaders, but having them at least participate in the upswing makes the broader market’s job just a little bit easier,” according to Barron’s.

For more information on banks sector, visit our financial category.

SPDR S&P Bank ETF