According to a report in The Wall Street Journal today, two external candidates hoping to replace Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis at the largest U.S. bank told the board of directors that the company "should consider breaking itself up." As a result, Bank of America's stock dipped 1.5% today, bringing a decline to 16% since mid-October. With each spasm sending the stock down, Bank of America becomes a better value, setting up for a surge when the economy starts to sprint and earnings scale previous peaks.
With the board rightly showing reluctance to break up the company at a time when it would get fire-sale prices for prized possessions like Merrill Lynch, Bank of America needs to find a qualified CEO who isn't afraid to manage the huge, diversified holding company -- at least until the economy and asset values find firm footing.
Leaks about Bank of America's executive search simply create better opportunities for investors to load up on the shares for the long term. Whether or not Bank of America breaks up, investors will profit.The scrutiny of events that led to the company's acquisition of Merrill Lynch will continue, regardless of a spinoff, as members of the Congressional Oversight Committee love the television exposure they get while bashing management during hearings. The criticism of Bank of America is a good thing for investors, who are confident that the largest U.S. banking franchise -- now with a greatly diversified revenue stream from Merrill Lynch -- will ride the wave of economic prosperity over the next few years.