Forget financials — payment stocks could be your best way to play the space

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Financials are lagging the market after falling nearly 10 percent from highs, while banks have tumbled 14 percent.

Mark Newton, president of Newton Advisors, is long-term bullish on financials but sees recent weakness as a reason for caution.

“I still believe that financials are trending higher, but we’re really within a downtrend that began at the beginning of the year. So unfortunately even with rates moving higher the group has been under a lot of pressure, and you’ve really had to be a lot more selective,” Newton said on CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Wednesday.

Newton says avoiding regional brokers and other sector stocks that have been badly beaten and finding financials-adjacent picks in the tech space could be a sensible move.

Visa is my pick in terms of within the whole financial space. Visa and Mastercard both look very attractive. I think those continue to do well,” he said.

Visa and Mastercard have both rallied this year. Visa is up 27 percent this year, and Mastercard has added 37 percent, while the XLK technology ETF to which they both belong has added 11 percent. The XLF financials ETF has dropped 2 percent.

Stacey Gilbert, head of derivative strategy at Susquehanna, says she is not a buyer of the financials sector given the headwinds that are anathema to banks: weak loan growth and a flattening yield spread.

However, she does have one financials pick that she believes could weather any troubles facing the sector.

“It would be KeyCorp,” Gilbert said on “Trading Nation” on Wednesday. “Relative to peers, it does have loan growth, and that’s one of the things that we think is obviously incredibly important for a bank. So, sector as a whole? No, we wouldn’t own it. Is there a name that if you have to own it that we’d focus on? It would be Key.”

Gilbert’s Susquehanna colleague Jack Micenko has a buy rating on KeyCorp and a price target of $25, implying 33 percent upside from current levels. The stock is down 7 percent this year.

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