Best Performing Bank Stocks of 2012

The KBW Bank Index, a group ranging in size from JPMorgan Chase to the $21 billion-asset Commerce Bancshares, rocketed back in 2012, outperforming the S&P 500 Index and recovering much of the ground it lost the year before. The momentum came mostly from names like B of A and Citi, whose shares snapped back after steep losses the year before.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $237 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 32.6%
Bank of America (BAC) Bank of America (BAC) B of A shares returned to double-digit territory in December. The company surprised analysts by posting the strongest Basel III capital ratio among the Big Four in October despite sustaining billions of dollars in additional legal costs. But its stock still trades at a discount to tangible book value.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $65.8 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 108.6%
Regions Financial (RF) Regions Financial (RF) The recovery in Regions' shares put them above tangible book value in late December. The company sold its Morgan Keegan brokerage unit, repaid the government's bailout investment and turned its focus to increasing revenue.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $4.5 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 64.3%
SunTrust Banks (STI) SunTrust Banks (STI) SunTrust also staged a comeback as it made headway in cleaning up its balance sheet.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $5.6 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 59.5%
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Citigroup (NYSE:C) Citigroup (NYSE:C) Citigroup stock regained some of the value it lost in 2011 as a boardroom coup led to the departure of former Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and further cuts under new CEO Michael Corbat.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $39.1 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 50.5%
Capital One (COF) Capital One (COF) Capital One outperformed the KBW Bank Index for the second year in a row as the company completed another major transformation by closing its purchases of ING Group's U.S. online banking business and HSBC's domestic credit card business.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $14.2 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 37.2%
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) JPMorgan Chase (JPM) Despite a trading blowup that besmirched the reputation of CEO Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase stock did a little better than the KBW Bank Index in 2012. The company's market capitalization increased by about $40 billion.

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $41.7 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 36.1%
M&T Bank Corp. (MTB) M&T Bank Corp. (MTB) M&T shares also beat the KBW Bank Index by a bit as the company announced one of the biggest acquisitions of the year in its agreement to buy Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK).

Change in market cap, year through Dec. 26: $3.1 billion

Total return, year through Dec. 26: 33.8%
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The KBW Bank Index, a group ranging in size from JPMorgan Chase to the $21 billion-asset Commerce Bancshares, rocketed back in 2012, outperforming the S&P 500 Index and recovering much of the ground it lost the year before. The momentum came mostly from names like B of A and Citi, whose shares snapped back after steep losses the year before.

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