There are good banks and bad banks. How do you distinguish between the two? Which of the seemingly innumerable metrics and quantitative measures should you rely on in your analysis?

The bad news is that most figures cited in the financial media about banks are irrelevant noise. The good news, on the other hand, is that there are really only two that matter -- or, to be more precise, that matter demonstrably more than the rest. 

Indeed, by nailing these two traits, investors can realistically hope to earn the same type of phenomenal compound annual growth rates that the likes of M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) have returned for their shareholders over the past three decades.


John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Bank of America and Wells Fargo. It also owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.