If you're aiming to "buy low and sell high," then it makes infinite sense to start your search with bargain-priced stocks. Regularly reviewing a list of stocks trading near their 52-week lows can be a great first step.

Here, I'll try to do the initial legwork for you. To prevent us from being inundated with scores of disparate companies, I'll conduct my search by industry. This will allow us to make some initial comparisons among semi-related companies.

There are 24 industry groups as defined by the Global Industry Classification Standard. Diversified financials is one of them. This group is dominated by big, full-service banks and investment banks. I already detailed regular banks here. Here are the seven largest by market cap that are hugging 52-week lows.


Market Capitalization (in millions)

% Change from 52-week Low

P/E Ratio (trailing)

Price-to-Tangible-Book Ratio

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM)





Bank of America (NYSE: BAC)





Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS)





Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB)





Credit Suisse Group (NYSE: CS)





American Express (NYSE: AXP)





Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS)





Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data as of Oct. 18.

The P/E ratios are enticing, but for banks, we need to look at price-to-tangible-book value as well. I usually like to see a value of 1.5 or below to indicate cheapness (that's a little less the case with the credit-card-slinging AmEx, since it's a different business model). Partially due to the foreclosure mess that's been going on, partially due to the lingering financial crisis, and partially due to a fear of what's still on the books, many of these large banks are trading at low ratios.

Is there opportunity? There is for those who can separate the wheat from the chaff. That's exceedingly difficult, though, given the opacity of the balance sheets. I prefer small banks for their simplicity ... click here for one bank that looks especially enticing.

But if you're big-bank hunting, JPMorgan and Bank of America are where I'd start your search -- JPMorgan for a higher-quality reputation, Bank of America for a lower-quality reputation (but cheaper price).

Interested in reading more about these stocks? Add them to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

Anand Chokkavelu doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. He posts his favorite articles on his Twitter feed. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. 

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