7 Things You Need to Know About PNC Financial Services (PNC): Citigroup Inc (C), Bank of America Corp (BAC)

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For we bank investors, it’s easy to focus on the big ones. They’re attention hogs, almost constantly in the news, whether for positive or negative reasons.

PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC)

As such, we can be forgiven for sometimes thinking they constitute the entire investable-banking universe. But there’s a whole other level of publicly held banks out there that also deserve investor attention: regional banks.

Regional banks are big enough and dynamic enough to conduct serious business — and therefore exhibit serious growth — without all the unneeded drama that can come along with being “too big to fail.”

Without further ado, then, here are seven of my favorite things about PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) : a regional bank that doesn’t steal headlines, but may just steal your investor’s heart.

1. Solid share-price performance over the past year
Since March of last year, PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) has returned 4.1% in share-price gains to its stockholders. Not stellar, but very solid.

PNC may be no Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) when it comes to share-price appreciation — returning 31.79% to its shareholders in the past year versus B of A’s 100% — but PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) also doesn’t come with many of the same drawbacks as Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), including a recent $10 billion payout to Fannie Mae for poorly vetted mortgages doled out in the run-up to the financial crisis. Size isn’t everything.

2. Great year-to-date share-price performance
PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) has been cooking on all burners since the start of 2013, returning a big 11.27% to its shareholders already. In a reversal of roles, and potentially investor fortunes, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) shares have only gone up by 4.41% since the beginning of the year.

3. Spot-on valuation
PNC’s price-to-book ratio is 0.99, which is right in the pocket. As a personal rule of thumb, I try to buy into a company with a P/B right around 1.0, with the hope of someday selling at around 2.0.

PNC’s P/B of 0.99 tells me the bank may be undervalued just a bit, but not so much that red flags are going up. For a bank throwing up red flags, check out Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), which has a P/B of 0.75: low enough to raise suspicions that something more serious than simple investor fussiness is manifesting itself.

4. Great fourth-quarter performance
PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC) grew its fourth-quarter net income at a giant 50.8% year over year, on just 5.8% revenue growth. Now that’s bang for your banking buck, and even beats the Q4 performance of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), which grew its year-over-year net income by 23.9% on 8.1% revenue growth. Wells’ performance is great, and PNC’s is even better.

5. Fabulous stress-test results
The Federal Reserve just released results from the 2013 stress tests, or Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review. The CCAR puts banks through a simulated, severe economic downturn — along the lines of what the country experienced in 2008 — and measures how well they perform.

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