Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Bank of America tops expectations on better credit quality

Pedestrians walk past a Bank of America ATM in Charlotte, North Carolina April 18, 2012.


Bank of America Corp. posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Thursday, as the second-largest U.S. bank saw credit quality improve and capital markets activity rebound after slowing at the end of 2011.

The bank joined rivals such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. that have all benefited from signs of strength in the U.S. economy and more activity in the capital markets as fears about the European debt crisis eased.

Bank of America said its provision for credit losses declined to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2007 and sales and trading revenue, excluding an accounting charge, was the highest since the 2008 acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

Story continues below advertisement

"In general it shows nice improvement across the board," said Joe Terril, president of Terril & Co. "I think the thing I am most pleased with just at first glance is continued improvement in the loan portfolio."

Bank of America's shares rose 1.8 per cent to $9.10 (U.S.) in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The shares are up 60 per cent this year after falling 58 per cent in 2011. The bank passed the Federal Reserve's latest stress test in March, shifting investor concerns from its capital needs to its ability to increase earnings in a time of low interest rates and increased regulation.

Separately on Thursday, Morgan Stanley also reported better-than-expected results helped by strong trading revenue.

Bank of America's first-quarter net income was $653-million, or 3 cents a share, down from $2.05-billion, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue declined to $22.3-billion from $26.9-billion.

The bank reported charges of $4.8-billion related to changes in the value of its debt, partially offset by gains of $3.4-billion from equity investments and debt-related transactions.

Story continues below advertisement

Excluding debt valuation adjustments, it earned 31 cents a share.

Analysts' average earnings estimate was 12 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Bank of America said analysts typically do not include debt valuation adjustments in their estimates.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank took a loan-loss provision of $2.4-billion, compared with $3.8-billion a year ago.

In its capital markets operations, Bank of America reported sales and trading revenue of $3.8-billion, up from $1.5-billion in the fourth quarter, but down from $4.6-billion a year ago.

The bank's Tier 1 common equity ratio -- comparing its core equity capital to its risk-weighted assets -- rose to 10.78 per cent from 9.68 per cent in the 2011 fourth quarter as it issued shares to employees, shed assets and accumulated earnings.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to