What: Shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the second-largest banking and financial products company in the United States, sank by 15% in January, according to data from S&P Capital IQ, after reporting fourth-quarter results that weren't up to par with Wall Street's estimates.
So what: For the quarter, Bank of America generated $3.1 billion in net income, or $0.25 per share, on $18.96 billion in revenue. Although Bank of America's adjusted profits of $0.32 topped Wall Street's estimates by a penny, its revenue fell well short of the $21.08 billion that had been forecast. What really shook investors is that legal expenses were not the culprit this time. Instead, ongoing weakness in its real estate and mortgage business, as well as a $788 million "negative swing" in market-related adjustments to its debt securities, led to its disappointing results.
There were bright spots as well. For example, Bank of America's legal fees were minimal compared to previous quarters and its non-interest expenses fell by about 20% year over year (that's more than $3 billion in lowered costs).
Now what: As a Bank of America shareholder I can tell you that it has not been a particularly fun month. But, as someone who's been a shareholder since late 2011 I'm not planning to sell anytime soon. Although Bank of America is still prone to growth hiccups, I believe it's nearing a point where it can put the mortgage crisis in the rear-view mirror for good.
Moving forward the catalysts that can help push Bank of America higher include growing its deposits and loans, which are the bread and butter of the banking industry, lowering legal expenses (which investors got a taste of in Q4), and eventually raising lending rates which will help Bank of America's record-low net interest margin and boost its credit division.
With Bank of America still sitting well below book value, you can consider me a clear advocate for this stock.