It's with much lament that I'll be selling my shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) at the end of this week. Because I both write about the bank on a regular (oftentimes daily) basis and am cautiously optimistic about its future, I wanted to explain why.
The reason has nothing at all to do with Bank of America itself. As I've noted on multiple occasions recently, the bank has made significant progress over the last few years. It's slain the lions' share of legal liability dating back to the financial crisis. It's right-sized its balance sheet, zeroing in on core franchises. And it's making headway in trimming its bloated expense base.
In recognition of this, it was given approval last month to hike its quarterly dividend from $0.01 per share to $0.05 per share and to add to its ongoing common stock repurchase program. These moves will further CEO Brian Moynihan's promise to return all excess capital to shareholders in one form or another.
The reason I'm selling my shares, in turn, is entirely personal in nature. That is, I need the cash.
To be clear, this isn't because I'm a profligate spender. My wife and I save roughly a third of our net income. We share a mutual distaste for shopping. We order water at restaurants. And my wife is dictatorial over paper towel use -- a roll will last us nearly a year -- as well as anything else that has a non-consumable alternative.
Instead, we closed on a house on March 31 and owe a not insignificant pound of flesh to the government for income taxes on April 15. The former is a happy obligation; the latter is a necessary one.
The cash component of both was exacerbated by a number of factors. In the first case, we didn't want a starter house. We're in our mid-thirties, have two kids (twin boys), and I, as a follower of the economy and mortgage trends, know we may never see mortgage rates this low again. Additionally, while it's possible to minimize one's down payment, we wanted to get the best mortgage rate possible and therefore put 20% down.
With respect to taxes, as an independent contractor, I'm responsible for prepaying my current year's taxes along the way as opposed to having it automatically withheld. The primary data point is one's previous year's income. And, in my case, albeit at the behest of a paid accountant, this led me to underestimate my 2013 tax liability. Thus, as opposed to getting a refund, I owe money this year. It's a bummer, but it is what it is.
At the end of the day, I'm a firm believer in the cliche that "the right time to sell a stock is never." And this is particularly true with great investments, as Bank of America has been for me. That being said, the purpose of investing is to improve our lives. And, in this, the gain we'll realize from the sale will most certainly go a long way toward accomplishing that objective.