As 2011 comes to a close, it's a great time to look back at what happened to the stocks that interest you. By making sure you know the important things that a company accomplished -- as well as the setbacks it experienced -- you can make a better decision about whether it's a smart investment for your portfolio.

Today, let's take a look at Synovus Financial (NYSE: SNV). The regional bank ranked among the worst performers among its peers as it has essentially never rebounded from the financial crisis that started in 2008. Below, I'll take a closer look at the events that moved Synovus Financial's shares this year.

Stats on Synovus Financial

Year-to-Date Stock Return (46.8%)
Market Cap $1.08 billion
Total Assets $28.3 billion
Revenue, Trailing 12 Months $668 million
Net Interest Income, TTM $939 million
Net Loss, TTM ($254 million)
1-Year Growth in Net Interest Income (6.1%)
CAPS Rating (out of 5) ****

Sources: S&P Capital IQ, Motley Fool CAPS.

What happened to Synovus this year?
Better than nearly any other stock, Synovus shows how much worse some regional banks are doing compared to their too-big-to-fail peers. Although Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB) haven't had the best year ever, they've still recovered substantially from the market meltdown three years ago.

By contrast, 2011 was particularly harsh on regional banks, many of which sit near or below their late-2008 levels. Along with Regions Financial (NYSE: RF) and Hudson City Bancorp (Nasdaq: HCBK), Synovus is dirt cheap, trading at a huge discount to its book value.

One reason is that Synovus has taken massive losses on its real-estate holdings. But those losses have started falling this year compared to 2009 and 2010, suggesting that the end of the long downturn may finally be in sight for the company. Yet with nonperforming loans still representing a fairly high 4.6% of total loans -- higher than both the regional peers above as well as big troubled banks like Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) -- Synovus still has some work to do before it can declare victory.

Synovus may not be the best bank stock out there, but we've got some good leads on banks we think are better. Read The Motley Fool's latest special report on banking to find out which banks the smartest investors are buying now. The report is free, but it won't be there forever, so check it out today.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.