There’s a ‘disconnect’ with bank stocks and they should climb higher, top analyst says

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The better-than-expected jobs report last week is further proof that the market is undervaluing bank stocks, Wells Fargo’s top bank analyst said Monday.

“They’re still priced like the global financial crisis, and that’s a complete disconnect to the stock market as a whole, and frankly it’s a disconnect to what the bond market says about banks,” analyst Mike Mayo said on CNBC’s “Fast Money.”

Bank stocks have ripped higher over the past week as the S&P 500 has surged back above the level where it ended 2019. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF has climbed more than 18% since June began. 

Still, Mayo said the stocks have further to go. He cited last week’s jobs report, which saw the economy add 2.5 million jobs instead of shedding more like many expected, and increasing consumer loans as reasons to be bullish, among other data points. The early signs of a possible economic recovery make it less likely that the banks will face a serious crisis of their own, Mayo said. 

“There’s less chance of that extreme tail risk, and at the same time anyway banks are resilient and are able to absorb the body and still grow book value and still support the economy,” he said.

Wells Fargo increased its price targets on all the banks it covers last week, with Mayo telling CNBC that larger banks were in a strong position. On Monday, he said the economic restrictions and stay-at-home orders implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus have forced customers to use digital banking tools, which is an advantage for larger banks that have been able to invest heavily in that area. 

“Retail customers have been jolted out of the bank branches and forced to use digital banking … that’s going exactly where banks’ strategic plans have been going. So in the last two months, you’ve accelerated the digital acceleration of the banks by two to five years,” he said. 

In a note released Monday, Mayo wrote that investor feedback to Wells Fargo since last week’s call to raise price targets indicated a willingness by clients to take larger positions in bank stocks.

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