Despite substantial jitters surrounding U.S. banks heading into earnings season, Citigroup and Bank of America offer significant value and could double in value over the next two years, Dick Bove, Vice President of Equity Research Financial Sector at Rafferty Capital told CNBC on Thursday.
Bank of America reported earnings on Thursday just ahead of analyst forecasts.
Wells Fargo is also due to report, while Citi's numbers are out on Friday. On Wednesday JPMorgan Chase reported quarterly profit ahead of forecasts, although analysts' expectations were low. The S&P financial sector was up 2.25 percent on Wednesday -- its best day in over than a month.
"To say that JPMorgan beat its estimates is a little bit of a stretch at this point," the widely followed Bove said.
"In the case of both Citi and Bank of America, you have two companies which are selling at 35 to 40 percent discount to book value which is, in my view, absurd. I think these stocks are unbelievably attractive," Bove said. "And I think that both stocks over the next 18-24 months should be able to double."
His comments echo similar remarks he made last July , when he said Bank of America's share price could double in the next four years. At the time, he had a 12-month price target of $23, compared to the consensus of $19, and a target price of $34 by 2019. The stock is currently trading at $13.7 per share.
David George, senior research analyst for U.S. Banks at Robert W. Baird believes now is a "reasonable time" to start looking at U.S. banks with a long-term view. "I would expect that JPMorgan will be one of the better numbers that we see (this banks earnings season)."
He favors Bank of America and JPMorgan. "Tomorrow's number out of BofA probably won't be quite as good (as JPMorgan) but we still would be buyers of Bank of America," George said, ahead of the release of BofA earnings. "We would remain buyers of Bank of America and JPMorgan here."
Given the underperformance of the banks, George did not see any obvious shorting opportunities.
Paul Miller from FBR Capital Markets agreed. Commenting on JPMorgan earnings, he told CNBC the bank had simply reported a "decent quarter". He expected most banks to do the same thing. "There is a lot of negativity out there right now on bank expectations."
Bove believed the traditional banking business in the United States was doing really well, but "everything that's going on in the capital markets business is not doing well."
Investment banking is suffering and trading and asset management are weak, he pointed out, while consumer units are seeing loan growth above average and relatively low loan losses.
"Looking forward for the remainder of the year…regional banks will do well, and it's (a) toss-up considering what's going to happen in the capital markets arena," Bove said.
Loan losses in the U.S. banking industry look set to increase, he said, in four specific areas: oil and gas, metals and mining, subprime auto lending and commercial real estate. The biggest hit would come from commercial real estate. Although the banks are generating enough revenue to absorb these losses, we should nonetheless expect them to go up for the next two to three years, according to Bove.
Disclosure: Dick Bove owns shares of Bank of America