Two Wednesdays from now is the most important day of the year for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and its shareholders. Mark it on your calendar.
According to a press release from the Federal Reserve, March 26 is the day the nation's largest banks learn whether their dividend requests for 2014 have been approved or denied.
The significance of a dividend hike for Bank of America can't be overstated. Above all, it would serve as a stamp of approval on the progress CEO Brian Moynihan and his team have accomplished since the financial crisis.
- They've cleaned up tens of billions of dollars in legal liability.
- They've abandoned, regrouped, and mounted a new attack on the mortgage market.
- They've integrated and are now leveraging the world-class wealth management services offered by U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch.
- And they've raised the bank's capital levels to industry-leading heights.
Beyond this, a higher dividend would communicate to the market Bank of America is once again a solid and robust financial institution.
The net result of such affirmation would be twofold. First, long-term shareholders will be rewarded for their loyalty with larger quarterly checks. And second, the hallo effect of approval could very well boost the bank's underlying share price.
How big will these impacts be? Some analysts predict that Bank of America could double its quarterly payout. Others believe the payout could be quadrupled. And, of course, it could stay the same if Bank of America didn't seek or wasn't given the go-ahead.
I see the latter outcome as unlikely, but I've been surprised before. Either way, however, every Bank of America shareholder would do themselves a favor by marking March 26 on their calendar and hoping for the best.