Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has championed the comeback, but many analysts continue to beat BAC down. As one of the top six mega-banks, and one that took considerable money to withstand the financial crisis, there is plenty of room for critics to beat on the past leaders and how their decisions were shortsighted and bad business practices. Those people are gone, and with a new management team, it has righted the ship and established good principles in this new era. Although I support the new BAC management team, I agree with a large group of investors who got burned, we need better government regulations, not a public beating six years past. BAC has transformed the company by shedding bad habits and restructuring the business operations. Although it still has baggage, it is improving.
One strong negative on the 'Big Six' Financial Banks is the legal action every company and State can bring. Bank of America is a lawsuit favorite right now. Bank of America has won a federal judge's approval for a $2.43B settlement with investors who said the lender hid crucial information when it bought Merrill Lynch in a $50B all-stock deal in September 2008. The settlement is among the largest stemming from the global financial crisis.
Now, Prudential is suing BAC for alleged "racketeering" relating to the mortgage-backed securities of the financial meltdown in 2007-08. Every state in the union may attempt to sue the 'Big Six' if they think the 'Big Six' will give them millions of dollars. At some point the Judiciary Branch is going to say enough is enough.
A strong positive is BAC passed the Fed's stress test and CCAR and plans to repurchase $5 billion of its shares and redeem preferred stock worth about $5.5 billion in 2013. These are very positive steps indeed, although it left the dividend at $0.01 per share, per quarter. There is room in the future to address that.
Cramer, from 'The Street' recently stated, it is time to stop beating BAC. His recommendation for investors considering BAC: "Under $12 it's a buy, buy, buy."
BAC has been trading near and above $11.00 to a high of $12.94 since Nov 12, with good reason. It is making substantial gains in the business operations. The profit has grown to approximately $1.00 per share over the last year. BAC's book price is listed between 20.24 and 21.98 from various sources. That is .6 current price to book, allowing for potential huge gains in the near future.
BAC continues to expand its profit margin and the last three years' performance shows a good recovery, solid fundamentals and good decision making by the management team. Because BAC is selling off less valuable assets we see a slower growth in numbers, but when looking at the core business, the growth is a solid performer. Management is working to reduce debt, and part of it is shown above with the repurchase of preferred stock. Debt is viewed as a negative, however, BAC is near the norm within the financial sector. With the positive cash flow through solid profits, the management team will continue to reduce excessive debt going forward.
Analysts from across the professional ranks report their recommendations as: nine strong buys, two moderate buys, 14 holds and one strong sell for an overall hold. I view the company metrics and these professional analysts' recommendation as a short-term evaluation. I expect at least a 10% increase in the stock price over the next 12 months and for the long term (five years) a strong buy with double-digit returns on your investment each year. If the stock price grows 15% a year the stock price would be about $25.00 in five years. I would expect at least this with the price closing ground on the book price. And we didn't even talk about the increase in dividend we expect beginning within the year.
Additional disclosure: I own stock in BAC and although not long today, plan to invest in BAC in the future.