Four Years After Bear Stearns, Bank Stocks Charge Higher

Four Years After Bear Stearns, Bank Stocks Charge Higher

  • Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 -
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Miller Tabak

It's hard to believe, but today is the four-year anniversary of J.P. Morgan Chase's deal to acquire ailing Bear Stearns for only $2 a share.

One financial crisis and one European sovereign-debt crisis later, the S&P500 is back above 1400 and looking to charge higher.

A reflection of the last four years shows a wild ride for stocks.The S&P 500 actually jumped about 15% two months after the J.P. Morgan/Bear deal. But the good times didn't last long. Stocks embarked on a precipitous drop that brought the index down as low as 666 in March 2009.

Since then, the S&P 500 has fought through several fits and starts - including last summer's swoon - to more than double over the last three years.

While financial stocks are up more than 20% this year, they're still well off levels experienced four years ago. J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo are higher than they were four years ago, while Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America are still well below their early 2008 levels.

Still, financials are leading the broad market's 2012 gains for the first time in years and investor sentiment has turned decidedly more bullish.

"Call it the luck of the Irish or just March Madness, but it looks like the stock market has room to run," says Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak.

He has a near-term target for the S&P 500 at 1426, which is about 1.5% above current levels. TheS&P 500 was recently up 0.2% at 1405.

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