Were I an owner of National City (NYSE:NCC), I'd be a bit concerned. After all, the basic underpinning of banking is to borrow low and lend high, right? Well, how do you reconcile that with the company's decision to purchase Harbor Florida (NASDAQ:HARB) at a time when valuations are pretty healthy and everybody wants into the Florida market, and to possibly sell their subprime mortgage business at a time when nobody wants to touch that kind of lending?

Then again, I can appreciate the drive to do something to improve results. Once again, National City didn't post a particularly strong quarter, though you can certainly argue that reported results don't tell the whole story, at least at first glance.

Net interest income (after provisions) was down about 3%, and that's not great. On the other hand, the erosion in net interest margin was all but minimal. Turning to non-interest income, results look bad (down 20%), but hedging losses relating to the bank's mortgage servicing rights caused a fair bit of that. Basic deposit and banking fees were actually up 15%, and that's pretty good.

There's a similar give-and-take on the balance sheet. Average loan balances were down 3%, but commercial lending was up about 6%. And though core deposit growth of less than 3% was pretty soft, the bank also relied less upon brokered deposits, and that's a positive.

I still really don't see a compelling reason to throw in with National City today. If you want a high-yielding Midwestern bank, why not invest in U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB)? If you want to play a turnaround/improvement idea, how about FifthThird (NASDAQ:FITB)? And what, too, of very different options like Citigroup (NYSE:C), Lloyds (NYSE:LYG), or Kookmin (NYSE:KB)?

My point isn't necessarily that all or any of those banks will outperform, though I think some of them will. Instead, I'd simply argue that with such a wealth of options out there in the banking space, investors should make sure they're really buying shares of the bank(s) that they think are poised to do the best over their time horizon.

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National City and U.S. Bancorp are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Lloyds is an Inside Value recommendation. Speed up your path to investing excellence with ourFoolish newsletters. You can try on any of our market-beating servicesfree for 30 days.

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