Synovus Financial Corp. (SNV) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) Amongst Basswood Capital’s Top Picks For Q2

A few days ago, Matthew Lindenbaum’s Basswood Capital, filed a Schedule 13F with the SEC, disclosing his long equity positions as of June 30, 2014. The fund´s equity portfolio is mainly focused on financial companies (80%), and saw 9 new stocks arrive over the second quarter of 2014. In addition, Basswood increased its stakes in 69 of its preexisting holdings and sold out of 20 of them. So, let´s take a look at its top holdings for Q2, in order to elucidate if any of them deserve further research.

The first spot in the list remained unchanged in relation to the first quarter: Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE:SNV). This $3.3 billion market cap financial services company and registered bank holding company saw Matthew Lindenbaum’s position expanded by 8% over Q2. The fund now owns 3.85 million shares of Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE:SNV), with a market value of almost $94 million, which account for more than 4.8% of its total equity portfolio.

Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE:SNV)

In addition to Basswood, other major funds seem to feel quite bullish about Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE:SNV). Ken Griffin’s Citadel Investment Group almost doubled its exposure to the company on mid-May. The fund now owns about 7.26 million shares of the company. Although it had disclosed ownership of 50.8 million shares in its 13G filing, the company implemented, a few days later, a one-for-seven reverse stock split.

The second and third positions also remained the same as in the previous quarter. First is Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), a $273 billion market cap diversified financial services company in which Basswood owns a stake worth more than $63 million -1.21 million shares, which saw no change over Q2.

Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) is Warren Buffett’s biggest position at the moment. The famed investor owns more than 463 million shares of the company, worth about $23 billion.

Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) has managed to recuperate from the massive drop in the price of the stock generated by the 2008 financial crisis. It is already up 14% year-to-date, but still trades at a discount valuation (13x P/E) in relation to its industry peers. In addition, the stock carries an annualized dividend yield of 2.68% of the current stock price.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) didn’t witness any changes in Mr. Lindenbaum’s position either. The fund’s 1.15 million shares stake, worth almost $50 million accounts for approximately 2.5% of its total equity portfolio.

Same as in the aforementioned case, Warren Buffett is the largest hedge fund shareholder at U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), with more than 80 million shares, worth over $3.4 billion.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) is a $78.3 billion market cap multi-state financial holding company that provides financial services through its subsidiaries, including lending and depository services, cash management, foreign exchange and trust and investment management services. The stock is up about 6.4% year to date, and analysts expect it to continue to rise, at least another 3 percentage points.

Belden Inc. (NYSE:BDC) ascended from the ninth position in this list to the fourth, although Basswood’s stake, once again, remained unaltered. The stock price for this $3.3 billion market cap electronic components provider is up roughly 13% since the end of Q1. This made the value of Basswood’s position at Belden Inc. (NYSE:BDC) increase from $42.67 million to $47.92 billion.

Trailing Basswood, which is the largest hedge fund investor at the company, is Ira Unschuld’s Brant Point Investment Management, which last declared ownership of 321,900 shares (for Q1) of Belden Inc. (NYSE:BDC), worth about $25 million at current stock prices.

City National Corp (NYSE:CYN), a $4.1 billion market cap provider of banking, investment and trust services, is the last company in this list. After expanding its bet on the company by 10%, Basswood owns 584,330 shares of City National Corp (NYSE:CYN), worth approximately $44 million. John W. Rogers holds an even larger stake at City National Corp (NYSE:CYN). His fund, Ariel Investments, disclosed ownership of 2.1 million shares by the end of Q1 2014.

Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no position in any stocks or funds mentioned

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