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Why Bank of America Is Tanking Today

By John Grgurich - Apr 17, 2013 at 10:58AM

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Strangely, good first-quarter earnings are making for unhappy investors.

Bank of America (BAC 5.94%) reported first-quarter earnings today, which means there's no question as to what's moving the needle so much. But there's a big question as to why the needle is moving in the direction it is: down.

Tale of the tickers
First, here's a quick overview of exactly where B of A, its peers, and the markets are shaking out so far:

  • B of A is completely tanking, down 3.83% already.
  • Citigroup isn't doing so hot either, down 1.58% so far.
  • JPMorgan Chase (JPM 6.19%) is down 1.74%.
  • Finally, Wells Fargo (WFC 5.16%) is down 0.98%

Happy earnings, unhappy investors
There's a lot of good news in the first-quarter earnings report:

  • Net income was $2.6 billion, up from $653 million for the same period last year, for a rise of nearly 300%. 
  • Overall revenue is up by 5.5%. This when revenue is flat or down at other big banks reporting for the first quarter. At JPMorgan, total revenue was down 3.9% year over year. At Wells, total revenue was down 1.4% year over year.
  • Deposit balances grew 5% year over year, to $1.1 trillion: good news at a time of decreasing revenue, and profit, from the mortgage business.

So why are investors unhappy? Well, earning per share did miss analyst expectations, but only by $0.02. Frankly, if you as an investor are focusing on that minuscule miss when your company grew its profits by almost 300%, you may need new glasses.

B of A's home-lending business is up, as well: first-lien mortgage production is up 57% year over year. And if you're worried that's the wrong direction for the bank to be heading in, just as the slowing U.S. home-lending business seems to be affecting all the big banks, take solace in the fact that B of A is going gangbusters in global investment banking. The superbank is currently ranked No. 2 in fees, which are up 26% year over year. 

Are things perfect at B of A? Of course not. But investors should really be looking at the bright side, here, and this from a B of A bear. Any signs of trouble at B of A in this earnings report are typical across the sector. Even the bank's litigation fees are down versus the previous quarter, good for a bank that continues to make payouts for financial sins committed in the housing boom.

Investors should be happy about B of A's first-quarter earnings, and they're not. But that's OK. As a Foolish investor, you're in it for the long term. The markets will go up and down in the short term, but you know to keep your eye on the horizon. So long as you still believe in the companies you're invested in, you know your money is in the right place.

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Stocks Mentioned

Bank of America Corporation Stock Quote
Bank of America Corporation
$35.87 (5.94%) $2.01
Citigroup Inc. Stock Quote
Citigroup Inc.
$52.77 (6.07%) $3.02
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
$124.60 (6.19%) $7.26
Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
$43.82 (5.16%) $2.15

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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