What the heck is going on?
The driver behind the drop appears to be the downgrade from Moshe Orenbuch. The Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) analyst took the stock down a rung from outperform to hold, essentially arguing that the stock's gains have outrun the company's progress and priced in more improvement than the CS team is expecting over the "near to intermediate-term."
Is Orenbuch and crew on point here? Perhaps. B of A's stock did double last year, and a higher price means lower potential returns for investors. So whether we're calling B of A's stock an "outperform" or a "hold," one thing for sure is that investors can expect much lower returns than they could just a year ago.
Looking ahead, though, the stock is still trading at a 10% discount to tangible book value. In the years before the credit crisis, B of A traded at a multiple of its tangible book value -- in 2006 that multiple was more than 4. It'd be nuts to expect it to snag a multiple anywhere near that today. However, to expect it to further close the gap on JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), with a price-to-tangible book value multiple of 1.24, and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), with a P/TBV of 1.67, isn't quite as crazy.
Further, when an analyst is talking about the "near to intermediate term," that often translates to "over the next year." That's pretty typical for Wall Street views, but Foolish investors tend to hold a longer-term perspective. Shifting to a longer view, I see a lot more opportunity for optimism -- think about a day when major, crisis-era settlements are a thing of the past and Project BAC has had more of a chance to slim down Bank of America's costs.
Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends Wells Fargo and owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.