European Banks' Shares 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 many of Europe's major banks were soaring today with Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE  ) leading the way with a gain of as much as 18%. Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB  ) , Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE: RBS  ) , Barclays (NYSE: BCS  ) , and Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE: LYG  ) were all very much part of the party, with gains at or near double-digit percentages.

So what: Greece isn't saved yet, but as new details of the country's latest bailout emerge, banks and their investors are excited that they may be spared -- at least for now. Rumor has it that the next round of financial aid to Greece won't require private creditors to take a haircut on their Greek debt holdings or create a special bank tax to help pay for the bailout.

Now what: Don't get me wrong, if this is all true, it's good news for the banks. However, the news is a bit like some guy suffering from some horrible pestilence waking up one morning and cheering that his arm was a slightly less sickening green color. There's a long way to go before the eurozone is out of the woods, so investors who are jumping on these banks today better be ready for plenty more turbulence in both directions.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2011, at 4:36 PM, havvey wrote:

    Well said: they may not fail but are not investent grade yet!!!

  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2011, at 9:51 AM, lonandmia wrote:

    Can anyone tell me why IRE up 5% again today? Its an ADR with a ratio of 1 to 4 ordinary shares. Those shares, are stuck at 0.10 Eur, the price of the ongoing capital increase.

    So,

    0.10 Eur x 4 = 0.40 Eur

    0.40 Eur x 1.44 = 0.58 USD

    Why is it now at 1.20 USD?

    As you may have guessed, I'm long the Irish shares.

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