A Big Score In Little Banks?

If you missed the chance to buy on the market's recent dip, don't despair. Some cheap stocks are left--maybe right in your backyard. Based on estimated 1999 earnings, shares of the nation's 1,340 publicly traded community banks are selling at a 36% discount to the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. That's "at the lower end of their historical range" of half to equal the S&P's value, notes Mark Fitzgibbon, managing director at Sandler O'Neill & Partners, a New York investment bank.

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