Shares of Regional Banks Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of regional banks were hopping today after some more deal activity in the sector. BancorpSouth (NYSE: BXS  ) added as much as 11%, BankAtlantic Bancorp (NYSE: BBX  ) rose more than 30% , Regions Financial (NYSE: RF  ) was up more than 7%, and SunTrust (NYSE: STI  ) gained as much as 5%.

So what: Earlier in the day, Whitney Holding (Nasdaq: WTNY  ) announced that it's being acquired by Hancock Holding (Nasdaq: HBHC  ) for $1.5 billion. Late Tuesday, Berkshire Hills Bancorp announced a $108 million buyout of Legacy Bancorp. This follows on the heels of other deals -- like Bank of Montreal's purchase of Marshall & Ilsley -- as well as deals that are rumored to be in the works -- like a PNC Financial (NYSE: PNC  ) deal for either Regions Financial or BankAtlantic.

Now what: Investors seem to love the quick pop that they get from an acquisition, but nobody likes the feeling of guessing wrong and getting stuck with a potentially sub-par stock. For that reason, most investors looking to wade into the banking sector are best advised to avoiding gambling on the next takeover. Instead, they should dig into the sector and look for the opportunities that don't need a buyout to make them a good investment.

Want to keep up to date on these stocks? Add BancorpSouth to your watchlist. Add BankAtlantic to your watchlist. Add Regions Financial to your watchlist. Add SunTrust to your watchlist.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his Motley Fool CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy assures you no Wookiees were harmed in the making of this article.


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