Here's a depressing piece of news if you're a shareholder of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC): Over the last four months, analysts have reduced their first-quarter earnings-per-share targets for the Charlotte-based bank by a whopping 83%, going from $0.30 per share at the beginning of the year down to $0.05 per share today.

According to The Wall Street Journal, estimates related to the majority of the nation's largest lenders started being slashed in February "amid mounting evidence that bank traders found fewer opportunities to make money in debt and currency markets and bond underwriting slumped."

"The easy money has been made on U.S. banks," a person at Manulife Asset Management told the Journal.


Consensus Estimate (January 1)

Consensus Estimate (April 3)


Wells Fargo




JPMorgan Chase




Morgan Stanley




Goldman Sachs








Bank of America




Source: The Wall Street Journal.

Although Bank of America's shareholders may be relieved to know it isn't the only bank to have taken a hit, this doesn't answer the question of why the nation's second-largest lender by assets has fared so much worse than its peers. Indeed, even Citigroup (NYSE:C) wasn't downgraded as much, and it was the sole U.S.-based bank to have its dividend request denied by the Federal Reserve in last month's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review.

Fortunately, there's less to this than meets the eye. At the end of March, Bank of America announced it had reached a multibillion-dollar settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency over charges stemming from the sale of faulty mortgages.

The deal requires Bank of America to pay a total of $9.5 billion, split between $6.3 billion in cash and $3.2 billion for the repurchase of mortgage-backed securities. Together, these are expected to decrease Bank of America's first-quarter net income by approximately $3.7 billion before taxes. On an after-tax basis, that equates to $0.21 per share of common stock.

Thus, excluding the FHFA settlement, the average EPS target for Bank of America is down by a much more manageable 13%. While still lower, it isn't the unexpected bloodbath that the numbers might have otherwise suggested.