If you're aiming to "buy low and sell high," then it makes infinite sense to start your search with bargain-priced stocks. Regularly reviewing a list of stocks trading near their 52-week lows can be a great first step.

Here, I'll try to do the initial legwork for you. To prevent us from being inundated with scores of disparate companies, I'll conduct my search by industry. This will allow us to make some initial comparisons among semi-related companies.

There are 24 industry groups as defined by the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Banking is one of them.

Below are the top six banks (by market cap) that are hugging 52-week lows.


Recent Price

52-week Low

52-week High

Price-to-Tangible-Book Ratio

HSBC Holdings (NYSE: HBC)





Banco Santander (NYSE: STD)





Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY)





Barclays (NYSE: BCS)





Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (NYSE: BBVA)





National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG)





Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Yahoo! Finance.

The first thing you'll notice is that all these banks are foreign. The large U.S. banks are all at least 20% off their 52-week lows.

I'm using price-to-tangible book value here as my preferred price multiple. This is a more stringent version of price-to-book, stripping out intangibles like goodwill.

Banco Santander and National Bank of Greece have been top of mind for contrarian investors because of the eurozone fiscal crisis. Both are historically quality banks that have been torpedoed by their country-specific risk. With Banco Santander, even though it has global operations that already mitigate some of the Spain-specific risk, I've been waiting for cheaper prices. In fact, there's a comparable American bank I like more at today's prices. Read more here. Meanwhile National Bank of Greece has fallen to a pretty low price. There's a lot of risk in the shares, but at least the price is no longer a premium.

Barclays and BBVA are also trading at prices that warrant a second look.

If you are interested in reading more about these stocks, add them to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis on them.

Anand Chokkavelu doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. 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.