Friday, November 23, 2012

5 things that make BofA thankful, and 5 that don't

Last Thanksgiving, Bank of America's stock price was near the lowest it had been all year. It had just ceded its title as largest U.S. bank by assets, and was still licking its wounds after a public debacle over a proposed debit-card fee.

The Charlotte bank finds its position a bit brighter this year, and certainly has plenty to be thankful for. But it also has a lot still to do, financially and in terms of winning back the public's favor.

Here are five things the bank is thankful for, and five things Bank of America or the public aren't grateful for.


1) Stock performance. Bank of America's stock has gone from worst to first in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, having gained more than 77 percent so far this year. Sure, it's still under $10, but it now has "buy" ratings from several investment firms. It's up more than 8 percent just in the last week.

2) Capital standing. In deciding how much extra capital the world's largest banks would be required to keep on their books, international regulators cut Bank of America a bit of a break earlier this month. Apparently recognizing the slimming the bank has done, the regulators put Bank of America in a lower tier than its peers JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

The Charlotte bank -- subject to change -- would be required to hold only a 1.5 percent extra cushion instead of 2.5 percent. According to the bank's calculations, Bank of America would already comply with all the new requirements not going into effect until the end of the decade. That makes it much more likely the bank will be able to increase its penny-per-share dividend in the coming year.

3) No Bank Transfer Day momentum. After that ill-fated debit card fee, a group of anti-bank activists started an online movement exhorting people to leave banks and join credit unions that gained a lot of national attention. After initially claiming success, it seems the movement has had little to no negative impact on the bank. Bank of America had 1 percent more deposits at the end of the third quarter than it did a year ago, at more than $1 trillion.

4) Technology adoption. Bank of America's customers seem to be gravitating toward its mobile banking platform, which remains one of the biggest in the country. The bank now boasts 11.5 million mobile customers, and is still signing up 50,000 a week. It's also now trying to get a product into small business owners' hands.

5) Moynihan's support. At a time when Citigroup's CEO was forced out and JPMorgan Chase's is still somewhat on the hot seat, the financial community seems to at least tepidly buy in to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's strategy. He may not be President Obama's favorite banker anymore, but investment firm analysts have cited Moynihan's moves as a reason to buy the stock. Hey, he even got an endorsement from Bono.

Not thankful

1) Job losses. You can hardly sing the bank's financial praises without recognizing the hundreds of families the bank has wounded in Charlotte and elsewhere to get there. Bank of America has about 16,000 fewer employees (or 6 percent) today than it did a year ago, and still has more people to lay off.

2) Litigation. There's seemingly no end in sight to the lawsuits being filed against the bank, primarily over allegedly fraudulent information given to firms that bought its mortgage-backed securities. Another was just filed on Wednesday. Its multi-billion settlement of claims the bank lied to shareholders before buying Merrill Lynch wiped out its earnings in the past quarter. Libor-rigging lawsuits could cost the bank more than $4 billion, and Countrywide is still deemed one of the worst business deals of all time.

3) Bad loans. Bank of America still manages more than 900,000 severely (60+ days) delinquent loans, per the bank's last quarterly report. And the bank will be under a good deal more scrutiny in the coming months about how the bank services them as part of the national mortgage servicing settlement.

4) Protests. The bank remains one of the biggest targets for protesters because of its size and the fact that it's responsible for one of the most maligned subprime lenders after buying Countrywide. A group temporarily shut down four Charlotte branches last week while protesting the bank's coal financing. Bank of America also became the victim of a cyberattack that spread to a number of other banks a few weeks ago.

5) Regulations. The banking industry had put a lot of money into helping Mitt Romney and Republicans win election -- which obviously proved unsuccessful. A Republican administration presumably would have weakened the increasingly active Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and been more receptive to scaling back parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that the industry deemed particularly onerous. With Democratic star and outspoken anti-bank figure Elizabeth Warren joining the U.S. Senate, the regulatory environment could get less friendly for the Charlotte bank.


Anonymous said...

Litigation, protests and more regulation = more jobs losses here in Charlotte. Mayor Foxx should be proud. Oh by the Elizabeth Warren is a liar, she lied on her application at Harvard, she has zero credibility, made millions flipping foreclosed homes but with these credentials in mind, she is a "hero" according to this paper. What does that say about liberals?

Anonymous said...

The Bank has more positives than negatives which is a good thing. Also, one needs to remember that the Bank currently has approximately 275,000 employee, so the layoffs are spread out around the nation.

Bravo BOFA!

Anonymous said...

Bravo BoA?? As a former laid off employee it's an awful place to work anymore. They are forcing people to do more with less. The general feel in so many groups is of fear of everyday and tomorrow. It's disgusting to see what this once great company has become on a daily basis as an employee.

Bravo nothing!!

Anonymous said...

How about paying me back all the money you scum stole from me. Bank of thieves!

Anonymous said...

How about re instating Glass-Steagall?

Now that would make BofA so very, very happy

Anonymous said...

If you've been laid off, I can empathize. I was laid off by Wells/Wachovia a few years ago and am now at BofA. Best place I've ever worked, by far. We work our butts off, but the employees are professionals, and genuinely care about each other and the customers our group services. Can't say that for other companies I've worked for. I for one am glad to be working, and working for BofA.

And yes, Elizabeth Warren is a complete charlatan jackass. One 64th Native American and she claims Native heritage. Typical liberal anti-business scum, the standard-bearer for the "you didn't build that" Communist psychobabble.

DolleyMadison said...

Maybe the New And Improved President of the United States of Amerika will stand up and hold BofA accountable. Doubtful when he’s the president they bought. Maybe the Monitor of the National Mortgage Sellout will actually hold them accountable…..(breath holding)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dunn,

How much does Brian Moynihan pay you to ignore the truth about his bank?