American investors have a long buffet of options if they wish to invest in Europe-based banks. I've personally written on the likes of ING Group (NYSE:ING) and the Irish banks Allied Irish (NYSE:AIB) and Bank of Ireland (NYSE:IRE). Elsewhere, you can also check out W.D. Crotty's piece on Lloyds (NYSE:LYG), a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation.

Today we're going back to the Netherlands to check out ABN Amro (NYSE:ABN). The largest bank in the Netherlands and a major player in banking in the Midwest U.S., ABN Amro had a decent, if not spectacular, quarter.

Profits for the second quarter climbed about 11% as the company benefited from robust profitability in trading and a nearly 40% drop in loss provisions. While net interest income was more moderate, it was still up 9% for the quarter.

Growth in the company's three core markets -- the Netherlands, the U.S., and Brazil -- was solid. While the Brazilian operations posted lower year-over-year growth as a result of tax issues, loan growth remained strong, and the base business continued to grow profitably.

ABN Amro is still something of a chimera today -- and that's not helping results. Walking the line between expansion and growth and value creation, ABN Amro has a solid capital structure and a respectable dividend history, but it has a very high efficiency ratio (high is bad for banking efficiency ratios because it means lower profitability), and its returns on assets have been rather unspectacular.

It would seem that the bank is still committed to this growth phase. The company is not abandoning its attempt to acquire Banca Antonventa, despite some recent setbacks, and it continues to push ahead into new Asian markets.

That said, it shouldn't be misconstrued that ABN Amro is just growing willy-nilly for growth's sake. Rather, the company has identified a core target market -- affluent retail customers and midsized corporations -- and is positioning itself accordingly around the world. Over time, this should pay off in better margins and returns for the bank, as opposed to those companies that try to be all things to all customers.

For now, the stock would seem to fit into the "OK, maybe not great" category of large banks. Although the company will face some growth challenges in the second half of the year, the valuation looks reasonable and the company pays a pretty nice dividend.

More Foolish banking takes:

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).