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Bank stocks: Banking on Wall Street

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Until decentralized everything ushers in a brave new world for humankind, U.S. banks seem set to remain the cornerstone of the global financial system. So keeping tabs on how they're doing seems like a pretty good idea to us.

Here's a list of some of the largest US banks by assets, all boasting market caps greater than $25bn. However, just because they're big, doesn't mean they're too big to fail, so never leap into any investment without doing your research first.

Symbol summaries

JPM

America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, has come a long way since it was founded in 1871 by the legendary J.P. Morgan and Anthony Drexel. Seated comfortably at the throne of investment banking, the US lender now handles more than $3.9tn in assets. JPMorgan enjoyed record 2021 profits of $48.3bn thanks in large to strong dealmaking and a boom in investment activity. In 2022 though, CEO Jamie Dimon (a fave on Wall St) was quick to pull the recession alarm. For H1 2022, the banking giant reported profit declines and earnings misses on the back of shifting Federal Reserve policies – JPMorgan’s stock was down 30% for the first six months of 2022.

BAC

Today’s Bank of America was actually called Bank of Italy back in 1904 when it was first founded – the name change followed in 1930. Later on, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the heavyweight bank shook the market when it acquired rival Merrill Lynch in a $50bn all-stock deal. Like other Wall Street lenders, BofA started belt-tightening in early 2022. But as it turned out, the slowdown for the second-largest US lender wasn’t as bad as many anticipated. Bank of America was the only Wall Street bank to report a revenue increase for the first quarter – though it’s stock wasn’t so lucky, dropping 27% in H1 of 2022.

WFC

Wells Fargo, a Wall Street mainstay, is a pretty historic figure in the field of finance. Established in 1852, the company is named after its two founders – Henry Wells and William Fargo. The bank operates more than 8,000 branches and is one of the ‘Big Four Banks’ in the US. While 2021 was highly beneficial for Wells Fargo, and its final quarter’s profit soared 86%, the first half of 2022 has left some bruises. Deal-making started to sputter out in the first quarter with profits slumping 21%, and the next quarter was even more crushing with a 48% drop in profits and a 16% slide in revenue.

MS

Morgan Stanley, a large US investment bank, was originally built by Henry Morgan (the grandson of J.P. Morgan) and Harold Stanley – they set out on their own in 1935. In its first year, the bank commanded a hefty 24% share of the market through $1.1bn in public offerings and private placements. Morgan Stanley went public in 1986 as a way to raise more capital and expand in foreign markets such as London, Tokyo, Milan, and others. In modern times, the investment firm posted a profit of $3.7bn in Q4 of 2021, beating analyst estimates. The next two quarters were hit by a slump in dealmaking that is yet to improve, leading to declining profits.

SCHW

Known as “America’s Largest Discount Broker,” Charles Schwab has been offering brokerage and banking services since 1971 when it was founded by its namesake. The firm is credited with establishing the industry’s first 24-hour quotation service. In 2020, it acquired TD Ameritrade in a leap to serve investors of every tier. The Texas-based brokerage wobbled into 2022 with a 21% trading revenue drop – $963m, down from $1.2bn a year earlier. Schwab’s stock hit an all-time high of $95 a share in January 2022, but since then has lost about 26% of its valuation and its stock floats near the $70-mark.

GS

Goldman Sachs - a household name on Wall Street. Established in 1869 by Marcus Goldman, a German immigrant who arrived in America in 1849 armed with a few words in English and a dream. Goldman started as a pushcart peddler selling merch and beverages. In 1869, he opened his one-room basement office to purchase promissory notes and sell them to banks. Later on, Goldman invited his son-in-law Samuel Sachs to the business. What started as a small one-man firm in a fledgling business turned into a powerhouse in investment banking. For 2021, Goldman reported $21.64bn in profit on $59.24bn in revenue – though it did feel the bear market of 2022.

C

Citigroup is an investment banking giant with history dating back to 1812 when the original institution was called National City Bank. Following a merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group in 1998, Citigroup was born, valued at $140bn and overseeing assets near $700bn. Nowadays, the investment bank boasts a market capitalization of roughly $100bn and shares are hovering around $47 a piece. Similarly to other high-flying bank stocks, Citigroup wasn’t spared the early-2022 bear market – its shares fell 27% over the first six months. Still, Citi beat earnings expectations in Q2 2022 though profit fell to $4.5bn from $6.2bn a year ago.

USB

U.S. Bancorp has been handing out the greenback since the times of Abraham Lincoln. With roots dating back to 1863, the investment firm was originally called First National Bank of Cincinnati. The bank we know today got its name in the late 1990s. In modern days, U.S. Bancorp is in the upper echelon of the banking industry. It carries a price tag of around $65bn, and its stock has been trading around $45 a share. The company performed relatively well under the market jitters of early 2022 and finished the first half down “only” 19%. If we take a 5-year look back from September, the bank has underperformed with a decline of around 15%.

PNC

PNC Financial Services Group was born through a merger between two Pennsylvania banks in 1983 – Pittsburgh National Corporation and Provident National Corporation. Before that, its predecessor Pittsburgh National Bank had already been making waves since 1852. PNC Financial was once the largest shareholder of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager overseeing almost $10tn in assets. PNC purchased 22% of the company in 1995 and sold it for $17bn in 2020 as a way to raise cash for new acquisitions. PNC itself is worth just under $70bn, and while its stock finished 2021 up 34%, it slipped around 19% in the first half of 2022.

TFC

Truist was born out of the merger between US regional banks BB&T and SunTrust, and the merged bank and its new fancy name vowed to carry on the heritage of both companies. That happened in 2019 when Truist became America’s sixth-biggest bank. The BB&T-SunTrust merger created an investment firm overseeing more than $450bn in assets and boasting over 3,000 branches in its homeland. Today, the bank has a market cap of roughly $65bn and its stock hovers near the $50-mark. Over the first six months of 2022, Truist shares logged a 20% loss – less than bigger rivals like JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs, but still not ideal.

COF

Capital One bank was founded in 1988 by Richard Fairbank and Nigel Morris with backing from Virginia-based Signet Bank. Back then, it carried the name OakStone Financial, a subsidiary of Signet Financial Corp. It wasn’t until 1996 that the bank expanded from the US into the UK and Canada. The investment firm has 755 branches and is also the second-largest auto finance company in America. Some notable achievements include its acquisition of Louisiana-based Hibernia National Bank for $4.9bn in cash and stock in 2005, and its buyout of New York-based North Fork Bank for $13.2bn in 2006.

BK

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, or simply BNY Mellon, is a Wall Street youngster with just 15 years of history. In 2007, the bank was created from a merger between The Bank of New York – the nation’s oldest bank, founded in 1784 – and the Mellon Financial Corporation. An interesting fact – BNY Mellon is the world’s largest custodian bank with around $43tn in assets under custody. On top of that, it boasts nearly $2tn in assets under management. The custody bank announced in 2021 that it’s gearing up to provide custody services for bitcoin and other digital assets as a way to meet skyrocketing demand from clients worldwide.

MTB

Investment bank M&T was founded in 1856 as the "Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company". In 2015, after three years of waiting, M&T finally merged with Hudson City Bancorp in a $3.7bn corporate matrimonial service recognized by the Federal Reserve. Another big-time event unfurled in 2021 when M&T agreed to buy People’s United Financial for $7.6bn in an all-stock deal. M&T has been an industry leader among Northeast regional lenders with over $140bn in assets at the end of 2020. Surprisingly, its stock finished the first half of 2022 in the green – up by less than 1%, even more impressive when compared to the broader market.

FRC

First Republic, a US bank now valued at about $26bn, was founded in 1985 by Jim Herbert. Over its decades of history, the bank has leaped from a small thrift to a lender servicing the wealthiest among us. A few years ago, even Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was cashing his paychecks with First Republic. The San Francisco-based bank set out to differentiate itself from other banks by bringing in high-income customers – more recently, it has put efforts into pursuing a broader approach by including low-or-moderate-income individuals. Stock-wise, shares of the bank were down around 27% for the first six months of 2022.

FITB

Fifth Third Bancorp, simply known as 53, dates all the way back to 1858 when it was founded by William Scarborough and 11 other partners. Sound banking principles and excellent service led the entrepreneurs through thick and thin. The unusual name was fused together by a merger between Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank in the 1920s. Today, the $512bn-in-assets lender boasts more than 20,000 employees located in over 1,100 centers in 11 states. Fifth Third is valued at around $23bn, but similarly to other banking stocks, this one didn’t put on a stellar performance in early 2022 and its shares finished the first half down by 25%.

STT

State Street Corporation opened for business with a capital of $300,000 in 1792 as a commercial bank in Boston, Massachusetts. Today, the company is worth around $25bn and brags a staggering $41.7tn in assets under custody. In June 2022, the bank was reportedly seeking to buy out the Swiss-native Credit Suisse. Takeover rumors were knocked down by the US custody bank, causing the Swiss lender’s shares to fall nearly 9% that day. State Street’s stock itself was dealt a heavy blow in 2022’s first half – shares were down 34% for the period. Still, the lender brought in $2.69bn in profits for 2021 on revenue of $12.03bn – so it’s not all bad.