Welcome Back: Bank of America Rejoins the Fight

After nearly a year's hiatus, Bank of America is BAC(K). And not a moment too soon.

But we thought you hated analysts?
Au contraire, my good Fools. We love analysts. Some make great fodder for mockery, their fits of short-term thinkery, and contortions of logic providing daily source material for my recurring column, "This Just In: Upgrades and Downgrades." Other analysts we love because they're actually worth their salt.

As it so happens, Bank of America belongs to the latter group.

We've watched B of A for nearly two years now on Motley Fool CAPS, our patented tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. Over that time, B of A has provided us a treasure trove of 652 stock predictions to evaluate. It's gotten 55% of them right (and counting), racked up a CAPS rating in the top 5% of investors, and earned itself the coveted "Wall Street's Best" icon (awarded to the top 10% of professional investors). Of the 172 professional analysts we track, B of A currently ranks No. 15. Outstanding.

Welcome back
Writing as I do on the defense and aerospace industries for the Fool, I've sorely missed B of A's insight in this area. Speaking of which, I should probably mention just what insight the analyst provided to inspire today's article. Here goes:

Company

B of A Thinks

CAPS Says (5 max):

P/E

Growth

Precision Castparts (NYSE: PCP  )

Buy

*****

16

17%

General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  )

Buy

*****

16

10%

Textron

Buy

****

14

13%

Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  )

Buy

****

15

13%

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  )

Buy

****

14

12%

Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  )

Neutral

*****

10

13%

L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL  )

Neutral

*****

15

11%

Boeing (NYSE: BA  )

Neutral

****

13

13%

Sources: Yahoo! Finance and CAPS.

That's it?
Um, yeah. Kind of makes my praise about its "insight" and all ring a little hollow, but that's basically all B of A had to say when it resumed coverage of the industry last week. In fact, only the first two columns in the above chart are B of A's. The P/Es and the growth rates, I dug up myself (with a little help from Yahoo! Finance). While I'm sure B of A based its opinions on something last week, none of the major news outlets, nor even my secret weapon, StreetInsider.com, had anything more to say on the ratings.

More's the pity ...
... because I dare say these ratings demand a bit of explanation. I mean, some of these recommendations are self-explanatory. Precision Castparts, for example, is looking mighty fine at a PEG ratio of less than 1.0, while L-3 looks quite a bit more expensive at 1.4. But some of B of A's other calls look passing strange.

Why, for instance, is General Dynamics a better buy at a PEG ratio of 1.6 than is Boeing at an even 1.0? After all, Boeing's finally got the lights turned on in its 787 Dreamliner, it's back in the running for potentially $100 billion in contracts to build the Air Force's new tanker, and it has an outside shot at the nearly-as-big project to design and build the Army's new Humvee.

Meanwhile, General D is puttering around with floating robots and looking to switch out its battle-tested CEO for a new recruit. Maybe the numbers don't tell the whole tale, but as a mere mortal investor, I'd really like to see some more detail on B of A's thinking here.

In other words
Welcome back to the fight, B of A. You were sorely missed, and we're glad to have you rating stocks and contributing to our Motley Fool CAPS database once again. But now it's time to earn your keep. Details, please.

Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation.Take a free 30-day trial of the newsletter to find out why. 

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 2,713 out of more than 110,000 players. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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