If you follow the financial sector as I do, there are certain banks and financial companies you keep an eye on. A lot of the focus tends to gravitate toward the "too big to fail" banks like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), but there are also a lot of banks one tier down from these big banks that should warrant attention. The majority of these banks tend to get the regional bank designation despite having operations outside their home regions. One of my favorite regional banks, US Bancorp (NYSE:USB) falls into this category.
My colleague Matt Koppenheffer recently outlined three reasons of his own to buy US Bancorp, so I won't steal his thunder as I agree with them. That said, here are three more reasons why you should consider US Bancorp as an addition to your portfolio.
Its size is actually a benefit
As I mentioned, US Bancorp is nominally a regional bank, though its operations extend well outside of its Midwest home in Minnesota. With over 3,000 banking offices and over 5,000 ATMs, US Bank serves 25 states, helping the bank live up to its name. This large footprint has helped the bank become the eight-largest bank according to total assets, and the first among regional banks.
The breadth of its footprint protects the bank from regional difficulties felt by some of its regional banking brethren. For example, Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) is based in the Southeast, a region that featured some of the most troubled economies in 2011. Because of this, Regions' customers had less money to spend on additional services provided by the bank. Meanwhile, by having operations in both the Midwest and growing West regions, US Bank avoids the same regional problems faced by some competitors.
Favorite of a fairly successful investor
When deciding what companies to invest in, one thing that some investors like to do is see what the "experts" buy or own. While not a terrible idea, it should be part of a much larger investing strategy. Nevertheless, it is still possible to gleam some great investing insights from great investors, and US Bancorp is no different.
A famous quote by Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK.B) vice chairman, has stated that when investing in banks, it is important to identify the ones that stick out instead of just avoiding banks altogether. In his opinion, "Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and US Bancorp avoid stupidity better than most." This ringing endorsement could be why US Bancorp remains the seventh-largest holding in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.
Continued growth to its dividend
US Bancorp made news earlier this year when it immediately increased its dividend after passing the Federal Reserve stress tests. But the growth to its dividend may not be over. Though its dividend has been reduced dramatically over the past five years, the 56% increase in March might be the first increase of many that shareholders see over the next few years. With a dividend payout ratio just above 25%, there is still plenty of room for growth in the dividend going forward.
Why am I so confident that the dividend will continue to grow? US Bancorp is led by a visionary CEO in Richard Davis, and it's his focus on the boring, traditional banking activities that will lead to continued success. With a lot of its competitors causing the financial meltdown in 2008 through the use of derivatives and other risky investments, US Bank is looking to growth in its deposits and loan portfolio to help lead the performance of the bank going forward.
The Foolish bottom line
The three reasons I've provided above should not be the only reason you purchase US Bancorp if you decide to do so. I do hope that they are a good starting point as you delve deeper into your research on the company. I believe it's important to consider financial companies for your portfolio and not just dismiss them outright.