The Federal Reserve Weighs In: Which Banks Can Pay Bigger Dividends?


This time last week, bank investors were reveling in the results of the Dodd-Frank stress tests, which showed that most major U.S. banks have solid, recession-resistant balance sheets. This week, the Federal Reserve took the stress testing process to the next level and evaluated which banks can proceed with their capital plans.

While the specifics of the individual banks' capital plans can vary considerably, what most investors are focused on is the banks' requests to pay higher dividends and launch share buyback plans.

Citigroup ruined much of the suspense last week when it pre-emptively announced that it wouldn't be seeking a higher dividend, but would ask for a small-ish share buyback authorization. There wasn't much suspense around Ally Financial, either. The former GMAC was hopping mad after the Fed flunked it during the Dodd-Frank round of tests.

For most banks though, yesterday was the day to find out -- in most cases -- exactly what kind of capital distributions they could hope for in the year ahead. For Bank of America shareholders, the answer was up to $5 billion in share buybacks. For Wells Fargo , it's a potential 20% dividend bump and more share buybacks. And while the news was good for most banks, the answer for BB&T was a thumbs-down from the Fed as it rejected the bank's capital plan.

To help you get the inside view on how each company fared, we've put together a comprehensive run-down on each company (aside from Ally) that participated in the tests. Click the links below to find out which banks passed and what their shareholders can look forward to in 2013.

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Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, Fifth Third Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase, KeyCorp, PNC Financial Services, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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