It has been a busy week for Bank of America
Trying to analytically dissect business operations at a behemoth such as Bank of America is anything but straightforward, particularly when results are skewed because of a major acquisition. The integration of FleetBoston complements Bank of America's 5,700 coast-to-coast locations and extends its international reach beyond the 150 countries where it currently operates. With more than $1 trillion in assets, Bank of America trails only Citigroup
As expected, combined second-quarter numbers released this morning showed broad growth across all segments. Net income soared 41% to $3.85 billion, or $1.86 a share, easily topping consensus estimates of $1.74. Total revenues climbed to $13.19 billion, driven by a 40% rise in net interest and a 28% increase in fee income. Aside from the merger, results were also helped by strength in the consumer banking segment (the firm's largest with revenues of $7.15 billion) and record investment banking income.
Underneath the flashier headline numbers is a foundation of strength in core operations. Year-to-date, more than 1 million consumer checking accounts and 1.25 million consumer savings accounts have been established, with both totals projected to exceed annual targets of 2.2 million and 2 million, respectively. Credit quality also improved, as non-performing assets fell and charge-offs dropped 21 basis points from 0.88% of average loans to 0.67%.
Unfortunately, much of Bank of America's profits were watered down. As mentioned earlier, earnings jumped 41% from $2.74 billion a year ago. However, earnings per share barely nudged 3% higher as total shares outstanding swelled by more than 500 million to 2.03 billion as a result of all those zeroes attached to the FleetBoston price tag. Furthermore, the quality of those earnings is suspect, as fully 20%, or $795 million, is courtesy of securities gains realized in the quarter as bonds were liquidated ahead of expected rising interest rates.
None of this is to imply that Bank of America is hurting, only that the numbers need to be taken in context. According to pro-forma figures, second-quarter earnings would have essentially been flat without the benefit of the merger and the bond sales. Nevertheless, the company is well-positioned for a rising rate environment, is expected to realize merger-related cost savings in excess of $1 billion next year, has raised its dividend by 61% since 2001, and is trading at only 11 times earnings. Such numbers make the occasional slow quarter easy to forgive.
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Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.