The slope of the inverted yield curve has flattened slightly this week. This may be an early sign that it will become easier to make money in banking next year, and in fact some banking stocks are starting to show a little pep. I have been looking into the bottom of the barrel of the banking industry for possible turnaround candidates. Most of what I have seen on the list of new 52-week lows has been trash, but I think Pulaski Financial Corp. (PULB) may be an exception. I am not going to run out and buy this because it is in a downtrend, but I will keep an eye on PULB.
Pulaski is a very small company which operates eight full-service banking offices in the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas. PULB was founded in 1922 by a group of Polish-American citizens who were having difficulties working with the St. Louis banks, and decided to form their own bank. Pulaski has been a public company for some time now. The shares currently yield 2.18% and they have a low .40 beta. The company has a good dividend history, and the payout ratio is only 33%. There was a 2-for-1 split in 2003 and a 3-for-2 split in 2005. The average daily volume is only 5500, but I think small blocks of these shares could be traded cautiously with limit orders.
The company issued a very encouraging earnings report in October and the shares do appear quite cheap, however, the stock is still languishing near 52-week lows, and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole until there is convincing proof that a new uptrend is under way.