Highlighted companies: Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), Wachovia Corp. (NASDAQ:WB), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)
Summary: In early 2005 Barron's published a skeptical piece on Bank of America (BAC). Now they say, "We were wrong; the stock has rallied 16% since then, outperforming not only its financial-services peers, but the broader market, too." BAC's $3.3b buyout of U.S. Trust looks good: its acquisition of a solid name in wealth-management is likely to lift Bank of America's private banking efforts. With combined assets under management of $328 billion, BAC goes to fifth from ninth in Barron's 2006 rankings of the top wealth management firms in the U.S., just ahead of Wachovia (WB) and just behind Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management. Analysts say the deal demonstrates the bank's willingness to draw on outside expertise to boost key portions of its business, leading a top CIBC analyst to lift her price target on Bank of America's stock to $65 from a previous $59 (shares closed Friday at $54.56). BAC currently trades for 11 times 2007 estimated earnings of $4.94 a share and yields a rich 4.10%, "which ought to keep shareholders happy as they wait for the latest purchase to pay off."
Related: Bank of America , Citibank Takeover Targets On Paper Only • Bank of America Acquires U.S. Trust in Bid To Lure the Uber-Rich • $1.5 Billion Ruling Against Bank of America Overturned • Bank of America Accelerates Free Trading: Time to Short Ameritrade, E-Trade and Charles Schwab?