In a recent detailed report on Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), our senior banking analyst, Anand Chokkavelu, concluded with the prediction that its stock could "double or triple within the next five years."
While this may have seemed like a pie-in-the-sky forecast at the time, the bank's performance of late has added significant credibility to Anand's conclusion. Its stock is currently the best-performing component on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) today, up 3.45% in intraday trading. And, more importantly, it's the index's top stock for all of 2012, up by an impressive 68% since the beginning of the year, versus the Dow's 5.64% return.
How much higher can it climb?
There's little doubt that Bank of America faces a number of terrifying risks that threaten not only its profitability but even its existence. Beyond the two most significant ones detailed in Anand's report, it's struggling with a massive portfolio of toxic loans and is watching as its lucrative net interest income erodes thanks to the Federal Reserve's successive rounds of quantitative easing.
Because of past mistakes, moreover, it has largely been forced to stand on the sidelines while competitors such as JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) lap up untold riches in the mortgage market. In the third quarter alone, Wells Fargo underwrote a staggering $139 billion in mortgages. And more traditional lenders like New York Community Bancorp (NYSE:NYCB) are reaping a windfall in refinancing fees.
But these issues aside, there are many reasons to believe that the just-concluded third quarter marked a turning point for the nation's second-largest bank by assets, making Anand's prediction ever more probable.
In the first case, Bank of America's capital requirements are now above both maximum regulatory levels and the bank's own goal for the end of 2012, freeing up excess earnings to distribute to shareholders. The lender also continues to make headway in its initiative to decrease expenses by $8 billion a year. And finally, by its chief financial officer's own admission, the bank has now switched its focus from containing costs left over from the financial crisis to a focus on driving earnings.
The final catalyst
While all of these accomplishments are great news for Bank of America's shareholders, the ultimate catalyst for its share price will be a dividend increase. If it's allowed to boost its quarterly payout in the first half of next year, Anand's prediction could well come true before 2013 is out. To discover whether or not now is the time to exploit this massive opportunity, I urge you to download Anand's report before it's too late. You can access it by clicking here now.
John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Company. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo & Company. 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.