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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 FICC Trading Assets: Bank of America's trading yield has been around 6% over recent years, after recovering from lows of -4.6% in 2008 at the peak of the global economic crisis. While we estimate yield figures to be around 6% going forward, should the division see a worse-than-expected performance in coming years, the yield could decrease to 4% over the Trefis forecast period. If that were to occur there would a downside of 5% to the Trefis price estimate.
- Investment Banking EBT Margin: Bank of America's investment banking business has reported margins of around 30% over 2013-2015. We expect the margin figure to remain largely around this level going forward. However, if these margins improve to 35% over our forecast period, then there would be an upside of about 7% to the current price estimate.
- Non-Interest Expenses as % of Mortgage Revenues: 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 since the downturn. We capture this in our analysis by non-interest expenses as a percentage of the mortgage division's total revenues, and this figure has been above 130% each year between 2011 and 2015 - reaching a peak of 432% in 2014. While we expect the bank's mortgage-related expenses to reduce to under 60%, a slower decline could occur in which the figure remain around 80% of revenues by the end of our forecast period. This would result in a 5% 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 2015, Bank of America's Corporate and Commercial Banking division had over $300 billion in outstanding business loans and almost $300 billion in interest-earning treasury-client assets. We expect these figures to increase to around $400 billion over our forecast period, and we expect that Bank of America will earn a net interest yield of roughly 2.3% on these assets.
In comparison, Bank of America's Wealth and Investment Management division had $2.5 trillion in assets under management at the end of 2015, but was earning a fee representing just about 0.5% of these assets. Bank of America also had about $260 billion of private banking assets in 2015, primarily representing loans to private banking clients, which were earning an average net interest yield of about 2.1%. 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 $600 billion of total interest-earning assets in 2015 within its Corporate and Commercial banking business. In comparison, the company had outstanding credit card balances of just under $100 billion on which it earned an average net interest yield of 9.2% compared to the average net interest yield of 2.3% in the Corporate and Commercial Banking business.
In the mortgage business, Bank of America had outstanding loans of $90 billion in 2015 and earned an average net interest yield of 3% 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 58% in 2005 to about 10% in 2009, margins recovered to almost 54% in 2012 before settling at 48% in 2015. 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. New regulations are likely to hurt larger banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup more than their smaller peers. 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.
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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