Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why Bank of America Corp. Is Just Getting Started

By Patrick Morris – Feb 9, 2014 at 11:53AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Even with a remarkable jump in its stock price over the years, Bank of America's latest results reveal that the it has truly turned the corner and could be poised for great things for years to come.

Despite the past troubles that once consumed it, with the calendar turned to 2014, to the delight of investors, the latest earnings results reveal Bank of America (BAC 0.24%) has officially moved onto the path of recovery.

A frightening past
The troubles that ailed Bank of America are worth repeating, and as of December of last year, it was revealed it had paid out more in legal settlements as a result of the mortgage mess ($43.9 billion) than competitors JPMorgan Chase (JPM 0.19%), Wells Fargo (WFC 0.23%), and Citigroup (C 0.10%) combined ($40.6 billion).

Even more striking was the reality that in the five combined years from 2008 to 2012, Bank of America had $13.6 billion of total net income, which was less than what JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo reported in 2012 alone. In fact, if you look at the three years from 2010 to 2012, the difference is even more startling.

Source: Company Earnings Reports.

And while 2013 was a very strong year for the performance of Bank of America and its stock, it should come as no surprise that when you consider from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2013, it trailed its peers by a wide margin when it came to the total return:

BAC Total Return Price Chart

However, 2013 did not simply represent a strong year from the perspective of the stock of Bank of America, but most importantly from its businesses -- in just one year it was able to almost eclipse its previous five years of net income:

Source: Company Earnings Reports.

A remarkable recovery
There is no denying Bank of America had an almost incomprehensible amount of troubles from 2008 to 2012. Yet 2013 marked a watershed year for the bank as it returned to normalcy.

Not only did Bank of America watch its income jump from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $11.4 billion last year, but it reduced its long-term debt by $25 billion (from $275 billion to $250 billion), cut nearly $3 billion in expenses, and added almost $12 billion to its capital base (what it uses to absorb potential losses).

After excluding provision for credit losses, which can at times cloud the numbers (often for the better), each part of the business saw its income rise year over year:

Source: Company Earnings Reports.

What is even more striking is the reality that this substantial improvement was all done with Bank of America having a return on average assets half of what its peers experienced -- 0.5% versus 1% -- which means even more improvement will be realized in the coming years.

After its stock has tripled from its depths of 2011, many have begun to question if there is anything left for Bank of America to do. But the reality is, the monumental improvements it saw in 2013 could mark just be the beginning of what is to come.

Patrick Morris owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. 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.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Bank of America Stock Quote
Bank of America
$37.70 (0.24%) $0.09
Citigroup Stock Quote
$48.29 (0.10%) $0.05
JPMorgan Chase Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase
$136.74 (0.19%) $0.26
Wells Fargo Stock Quote
Wells Fargo
$47.44 (0.23%) $0.11

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

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.