A "capital offense."
A "serious blow."
Those are among the reactions from around the Web to Bank of America's surprise news Monday that the bank is backing off of plans to raise its quarterly dividend after it miscalculated its capital ratios.
The bank had planned to increase the dividend to 5 cents from the 1 cent it had been stuck at since the financial crisis. But on Monday it said it is suspending that plan, as well as a plan to buy back $4 billion in common stock, after discovering it had incorrectly accounted for notes inherited in its 2009 Merrill Lynch acquisition.
The news comes just two weeks after the bank shocked investors with the announcement that it lost $276 million in the first three months of 2014, a loss that partly stemmed from the need to increase by $2.4 billion the funds it sets aside to cover legal costs.
Longtime shareholders of the bank who had been counting on the dividend as retirement income were, not surprisingly, upset by Monday's news. “It’s a disappointment, no doubt,” Alan Goozner, a retired federal contractor in Charlotte who has owned shares in the bank for at least 15 years, told me Monday morning as he monitored the fall of the stock price.
Here's a look at how some other people reacted to Monday's news:
- John Maxfield, in a post for The Motley Fool, wrote that Bank of America shareholders would "be excused for being disgusted." He called the news a "serious blow" to the bank. Maxfield also wondered whether "the mounting tally of legal settlements and revelations of highly questionable business practices aren't exceptions to Bank of America's standard operating procedure. Instead, perhaps they are its standard practice." He then goes on to say that he "can't help but admit that I'm still optimistic about the bank as a long-term investment."
- David Reilly, in a Wall Street Journal piece with the headline "Bank of America's Capital Offense," wrote that Monday's news, coupled with reports that the bank may enter into a $10-billion-plus legal settlement with U.S. prosecutors over mortgage bonds, "underscores the operational and regulatory risk that is ever present for a bank this size." For investors, he wrote, Monday's news means they have "to adjust their thinking about ... BofA's ability to manage its sprawling empire."
- CNBC's Jim Cramer called the news a "disgrace." "Is the bank too big to run?" he asked. "Do they have any idea what's going on?"