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Investment Overview for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)
Below are key drivers of Bank of America's value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate for Bank of America:
Sales & Trading
- Yield on Trading Assets: Bank of America's trading yield has been around 2.5% in recent years, after recovering from lows of -2% in 2008 at the peak of the global economic crisis. While we estimate yield figures to increase to cross 3% going forward, should the division see a better than expected performance in coming years, the yield could increase to 5% over the Trefis forecast period. If that were to occur there would an upside of nearly 9% to the Trefis price estimate.
- Equity, Debt & Derivatives Trading Assets: Bank of America's securities trading assets remained around $350 billion until 2008, before shooting up to more than $500 billion in 2009 due to the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The total assets shrunk to about $470 billion by 2012. If Bank of America decides to scale back its trading business in order to focus on its retail banking operations in the next few years, its trading assets could decline to about $400 billion by the end of our forecast period, compared to our current estimate of $600 billion. If this were to occur there would be a downside of about 5% to the current price estimate.
- Provision for Losses as % of Mortgage Earning Assets : Bank of America's mortgage business has been the biggest source of concern for investors, as there are significant doubts regarding the quality of its mortgage portfolio. Bad mortgages, and settlements related thereto, have cost Bank of America billions of dollars in recent years. We capture this in our analysis by including loss provisions as a percentage of the mortgage division's total earning assets, and this figure was 13% for 2011 before it reduced to 4.4% in 2012. While we expect the bank's mortgage loss provisions to reduce quickly in coming years, a slower decline could occur in which provisions remain above 2% of mortgage assets throughout our forecast period. This would result in a 7% downside to the Trefis forecast price.
Bank of America is one of the leading financial institutions in the U.S. and, along with JPMorgan Chase, is one of the two largest U.S. banks by total assets. Through its operations in the U.S. and certain international markets, the firm offers a range of products and services such as credit and debit cards, mortgages, auto loans, commercial loans, investment banking, wealth management and sales and trading.
Bank of America's clients range from individual consumers to multinational corporations, financial companies and governments. The firm makes a significant portion of its revenue from lending activities from which it earns a net interest spread. The bank also generates non-interest revenues such as investment banking advisory fees, asset management fees and yields on trading assets.
Corporate and Commercial Banking is the most valuable division for Bank of America for the following reasons:
High Interest Yields in Corporate and Commercial Banking
In 2012, Bank of America's Corporate and Commercial Banking division had just under $300 billion of interest-earning business loans and about $200 billion of interest-earning treasury-client assets. We expect these figures to increase to around $400 billion and $300 billion respectively over our forecast period, and we expect that Bank of America will earn a net interest yield of around 3.5% on these assets.
In comparison, Bank of America's Wealth and Investment Management division had $2.17 trillion of assets under management in 2012, but was earning a fee representing just about 0.4% of these assets. Bank of America also had about $250 billion of private banking assets in 2012, primarily representing loans to private banking clients, which were earning an average net interest yield of about 2.3%. The notably higher yield for the Corporate and Commercial Banking division is why it is more valuable to the bank than Wealth Management.
Larger Asset Base in Corporate and Commercial Banking Compared to Credit Cards and Mortgages
As mentioned above, Bank of America had about $500 billion of total interest-earning assets in 2012 within its Corporate and Commercial banking business. In comparison, the company had outstanding credit card balances of just above $110 billion on which it earned an average net interest yield of 9% compared to the average net interest yield of 3.1% in the Corporate and Commercial Banking business.
In the mortgage business, Bank of America had mortgage loans of $122 billion in 2012 and earned an average net interest yield of 2.4% on them.
Higher Margins in Corporate and Commercial Banking due to Minimal Loss Allowances
Bank of America's high operating margins in the credit card and mortgage business declined precipitously from 2007 to 2009 due to higher allowances for loan losses as a consequence of the financial crises. Provisions within the credit card business increased from 5% in 2006 to cross 15% in 2009, while those in the mortgage business went from 0.1% in 2006 to 13% in 2011. We expect loan losses allowances to decrease and margins to gradually improve in both businesses.
In comparison, Bank of America's margins within Corporate and Commercial Banking have fared much better. After declining from 57% in 2005 to about 18% in 2009, margins recovered to almost 52% in 2011 before settling at 48% in 2012. We expect margins within Corporate and Commercial Banking to remain much higher than those within the credit card and mortgage businesses.
The entire banking industry has come under a lot of pressure in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008-10. Rising delinquencies in consumer loans, credit card and mortgages have strained the industry's revenue base and profits. We believe certain key trends will play out in the banking industry going forward:
Regulatory reforms expected to pressure revenue growth going forward
Increased regulation facing the financial services industry is likely to reduce the top line for most financial institutions. In the past, lighter regulation allowed for greater risk-taking for many parts of the businesses, which drove strong earnings. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have said that new regulations could cut bank earnings by nearly 13%, with larger banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup expected to lose an even greater portion of their earnings power moving forward. Regulation is expected to affect the banking industry in several ways:
- Banks will be required to hold additional capital reserves which will slow down lending growth
- The CARD Act passed by Congress is expected to reduce income by prohibiting issuers from raising rates, fees and finance charges on existing balances or on prospective accounts in the first year
- The Volcker rule has led many banks to spin off their proprietary trading businesses
- Securitization will become less appealing as investors and regulators will demand that banks now retain some risk
Consolidation expected to continue
As a result of the financial crisis, the banking industry saw a period of mergers and consolidation. The industry continues to see consolidation in almost every aspect of the business as players try to globalize and increase scale. Customers are also becoming increasingly risk averse and turning to larger players with stronger deposit bases.
Acquisitions have helped increase Bank of America's market share in key areas
The acquisitions of Countrywide, Merrill Lynch and LaSalle have increased Bank of America’s Mortgage, Investment and Retail banking business. The addition of Merrill Lynch has resulted in the combination of Bank of America’s Premier Banking & Investments business to form Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. This addition has helped increase the number of financial advisers, assets under management and client brokerage assets.
Projected cost savings to drive substantial margin expansion
Acquisitions have also helped Bank of America achieve substantial cost savings. The Merrill Lynch deal alone is estimated to have cut costs by up to $7 billion through 2012. The ongoing Project New BAC should also result in net expense reductions of $5 billion per year for Bank of America by 2014. This will greatly improve operating margins moving forward for the firm.
How Does Trefis Modelling Work?
How do we get the historical numbers for this chart?
Trefis has a team of in-house Analysts who gather historical data from company filings and other verifiable sources. When historicals are available, we explain how we got them at the bottom of the Trefis analysis section below.
Who came up with the Trefis forecast for future years?
The Trefis team of in-house Analysts considers a variety of factors when projecting any forecast. The rationale for our projections is explained in the Trefis analysis section below.
How does my dragging the trendline on the chart impact the stock price?
- We use forecasts for business drivers to calculate forecasted Revenues and Profits for each division of the company.
- We then use forecasted Profits in a Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model to obtain the Price Estimate for the company.
See more on: DCF Methodology
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