By the end of last year Bank of America (BAC) was considered by many to be on life support. Embroiled in a series of legal battles, Bank of America hit a new low, when its share price dropped to around $5 in December, 2011. Due to the legal battles and the poor state of the United State economy at the time, Bank of America was unable to shake its reported $8.8 billion loss that it suffered in the second quarter of 2011. The pessimism surrounding Bank of America continued when, despite its subsequent positive earnings for the two quarters following its second quarter loss, investors continued to shy away from Bank of America. This consumer sentiment caused it to shed 50 percent of its share price in the matter of three months.
But, the positive numbers coming out of the Bank of America's accounting office soon paid off, as it made over $8 billion in net income in the third and fourth quarters of 2011. These earnings allowed it to make up for its share price losses in the first four months of 2012 and its share price topped $10 this April.
So now many investors must be asking themselves where this unpredictable financial giant goes from here, and I believe the answer is simple. If you're looking for a quick profit as many investors experienced at the beginning of 2012, you're looking in the wrong place. But, if an investor is looking for a company that will pay them consistent dividends well beyond the capital gains period, then Bank of America may be exactly what they're looking for.
Return to Consistency in 2012
On the back of the last two quarters of 2011, Bank of America has continued to show further growth. Reporting a modest $653 million in net profit in the first quarter and then following those earnings up with a reported $2.5 billion in net profit in the second quarter, Bank of America is showing strong signs that it will be able to turn over positive diluted earnings to its investors for many years to come.
Airing its dirty laundry
One of the major contributors to Bank of America's down fall was its notorious acquisition of Countrywide Mortgage in 2008. The aftermath of this deal has been well documented as costing Bank of America billions of dollars in lawsuits, which somehow were included in Countrywide's $4 billion price tag.
But, despite what many could have called the perfect storm for Bank of America, with the legal nightmare coupled with the 2008 mortgage crisis Bank of America has, with the assistance of nearly $100 billion in government bailout funds, ($68 billion which it has been paid back), stabilized.
Although there are still lingering lawsuits that my cause further backlash, including its recent $738 million settlement as part of a class suit filed by retailers for exorbitant credit card service fees, I do not believe these suits will have long lasting effects on Bank of America's profitability.
Saving money has made Bank of America money
Bank of America has eliminated 261 branch offices across the country in its effort to streamline operations. Although this has drawn some criticism due to 53 percent of the branches being in areas where the average income is below the national average, this downsizing was a much needed move for Bank of America to trim down its excess expenditures.
$25 billion national foreclosure settlement is paying dividends
What may have appeared to be a substantial blow to Bank of America, which agreed to pay its part of a $25 billion settlement on producing faulty foreclosure documents, may in fact pay off in the long run for its mortgage department. The suit, which included competitors JPMorgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C), forced Bank of America's hand into offering loan modifications to a large number of customers.
It was no secret at that time that the housing market was in need of a revamp and, despite its initial objection to the offering, numbers coming out of highly distressed housing markets are starting to show substantial signs of recovery.
It has been reported that the amount of serious delinquent mortgage payments in Southern Florida, one of the hardest hit areas, have decreased by 60 percent from 30,000 in June, 2011, to 12,000 in June, 2012.
On a national level, the housing numbers are also coming out positive, as it was reported that the national sales price of homes across the country has risen 8 percent from June, 2011, to June, 2012.
What these numbers reveal is that there is further evidence to support that the mortgage industry has finally stabilized. Due to the large amount of residential mortgages offered by Bank of America each year, which in the second quarter of 2012 alone was $18 billion, investors may be able to look past the previous mistakes made by Bank of America and realize that it has positioned itself to once again profit off its mortgage offerings.
The banking industry, with its recent failures is no longer a place to make a quick buck. But, with Bank of America learning from its failures, cutting its overhead costs and continuing its strong presence in the resurgent housing market, it has emerged as a company that is focused on long-term growth instead of flashy quarterly earnings reports. As a result, I believe Bank of America is a wise long-term investment for those who wish to capitalize on its current discount price.