People watch stocks for different reasons -- they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

With this data we have come up with a new metric, watch interest, to inform investors what stocks their peers keep tabs on in each industry. In the case of the commercial banking industry, watch interest is the percentage of people keeping an eye on commercial bank stocks in general who are specifically watching each company. By looking at what stocks in an industry people are most interested in, you can get ahead of the curb by finding hot stocks that you might have otherwise overlooked. That's easy to do in the commercial banking industry, as there are 411 publicly traded commercial banking stocks. The industry has been recovering from the debt crisis over the past few years, though some analysts are worried that commercial banks are beginning to repeat the same mistakes that got them in so much trouble.

The most-watched Commercial Bank stock is ...
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) is above the rest in terms of watch interest, and for good reason. As CAPS player jacobr57 wrote last week:

Banks have been lagging the market recently and Wells Fargo is one of the best banks to look for growth in the coming months without risking significant volatility. Wells Fargo is undervalued with a current P/E of 11.60 and certainly has room to run. It also has one of the few decent dividends in the banking industry at 1.67%

Here are the top 15 most-watched companies in the industry with their watch interest, along with the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our investing community.

Rank

Company

Market Cap (Millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Watch Interest

1

Wells Fargo

$149,682

***

24.0%

2

Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB)

$2,174

***

12.4%

3

Banco Santander (NYSE: STD)

$96,000

****

9.4%

4

National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG)

$6,210

***

8.4%

5

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB)

$48,841

****

8.2%

6

Huntington Bancshares (Nasdaq: HBAN)

$5,638

**

5.9%

7

Synovus Financial (NYSE: SNV)

$1,626

***

4.5%

8

Regions Financial (NYSE: RF)

$7,727

**

4.1%

9

PNC Financial Services (NYSE: PNC)

$31,490

**

4.1%

10

M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB)

$10,988

**

3.4%

11

Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE: LYG)

$49,970

****

3.4%

12

Bank of Hawaii (NYSE: BOH)

$2,206

****

3.3%

13

BB&T (NYSE: BBT)

$18,171

***

3.1%

14

Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY)

$81,243

****

3.0%

15

Toronto-Dominion Bank (NYSE: TD)

$73,891

****

2.8%

Sources: The Motley Fool; Motley Fool CAPS.

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry stalwarts like Wells Fargo or are watching an up-and-comer like Regions Financial, it pays to watch. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock tracking service. Start now!

Follow Dan Dzombak on Twitter at @DanDzombak to check out his musings and see what articles he finds interesting.

The Motley Fool owns shares of National Bank of Greece and Wells Fargo and has created a ratio put spread position on Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.