Good news for Bank of America
According to Dow Jones Newswires:
Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said Tuesday he doesn't see any reason the bank won't be allowed to pay a higher dividend next year.
"We are going to do it as soon as we can," Moynihan told investors at the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference in New York, adding the "recurring dividend rate is going to be more of a 30%" of earnings.
Simple math from there. Over the past 12 months, B of A's earned $0.87 of normalized earnings per share. Average estimates for 2011 EPS are $1.50 per share. I'd average those two together and say a 30% payout ratio would mean an annual dividend of about $0.35 per share. That'd equate to a 3% yield at today's prices.
Dow Jones continues:
[Moynihan] said he didn't want a dividend payout rate that would be too high and therefore leave the bank vulnerable to cuts. Instead he wants to have about 70% of earnings available for stock repurchases, and if the stock gets too expensive, the bank would turn to special dividends, he said.
Good to hear, but this strikes me as a bit insincere. Before the financial crisis, B of A paid out 40%-45% of earnings as dividends -- not significantly higher than the proposed 30%. Did the former payout ratio prevent dividend cuts? Of course not. If you want to prevent a dividend cut, the key is to lend money to people who can pay it back, and then build up capital with retained earnings rather than going hog wild on share buybacks at the top of the market. Has B of A learned that lesson? Only time will tell.
Still, I see this as a step in the right direction for shareholders. Banks have a lot of capital. Loan quality is improving. The yield curve is wide. For all its faults, the industry in general has improved substantially over the past two years, and patient shareholders deserve the return of dividends. I'd expect the other big banks, Citigroup
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Bank of America preferred. The Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase &. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.