After turning out some of the best performers in 2012, investors would be forgiven for thinking that the banking sector didn't have any room left to run. Some may want to avoid the sector all together after their disastrous last few years. 

Both groups would be wrong to write off finance stocks today. As Austin points out, even after big returns this year, these companies trade at enormous discounts to their book value. Even if many do not eventually return to their historic ratios, even climbing halfway back to their long-term averages spell big gains for many investors.

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.