Wells Fargo was named the top bank stock to buy in 2012 by analysts at investment firm Stifel Nicolaus, citing strong profitability and low price to earnings ratio.
"We think Wells will be on the offensive," analyst Chris Mutascio said during the firm's bank stock outlook conference call. He cited excess liquidity, high capital base and cost savings as a means to gain market share in small- and middle-market commercial lending.
Mutascio said the most value will likely be found in the space between the large "money center" banks -- those like Bank of America and JP Morgan, which will be weighed down by slow capital markets -- and regionals. Those include banks like Wells and U.S. Bancorp.
"That's where we find value here in the near term," he said.