BankUnited stock? Kiss it goodbye or hold on a pray

Q: I'm a new investor and bought BankUnited Financial shares (BKUNQ). Did I lose everything? What should I do with my shares?

A: It's been a good year, and horrible year, for bank investors.

Investors in big banks that have been deemed too big to fail have seen huge rallies from their lows. Bank of America shares bac, for instance, have soared more than 300% from their lows this year as investors became more confident the bank will survive. You can read more here about stocks that have rebounded.

At the same time, the number of banks failing is on the rise. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's list of failed banks continues to creep higher, as you can see in this failed bank list.

And one of the most recent and largest bank disasters is BankUnited. On May 21, BankUnited, headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., was closed. A newly chartered federal savings bank was created to take BankUnited's assets and most of its liabilities, the FDIC says here.

And while depositors still have access to their money, it's not such a pretty picture for shareholders. Shares of BankUnited Financial, parent of the failed bank are now worth only pennies.

At this point, it's pretty much a guess what will happen. If previous bank failures are a model, the future looks dismal. Most likely, what will happen is that the stock will eventually be delisted from the Nasdaq. The shares will then move to the Pink Sheets market and trade for next to nothing.

Some investors may hold onto their shares, expecting that the parent company may have assets left over. Others may file lawsuits against the FDIC claiming their assets were improperly seized and sold. There is pending litigation filed by some owners of another failed bank, Washington Mutual. The result of that could have an influence on how these events are ultimately resolved.

But remember: When you buy common stock in a company, you're last in line for any financial crumbs. You won't see a dime until suppliers, lenders, employees and other creditors are paid. And by that time, there's not usually much left.

Selling your shares and using the losses to offset gains and ordinary income on your taxes is certainly another option. Here's more on that from Bankrate.com.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at money.usatoday.com. To submit a question, e-mail Matt at mkrantz@usatoday.com. Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns. Follow Matt on Twitter at: twitter.com/mattkrantz

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