NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street wants Bank of America (BAC) to get back on a growth trajectory, but it's unclear whether the firm will deliver on top-line expectations with its first-quarter results next week.
Bank of America's revenue shrank by an average of 11% in each of the previous three quarters. The decline reflected an easing of the early-2009 mortgage-refinancing wave, as well as seasonal patterns and a general contraction of the U.S. consumer business -- traditionally the bread and butter of B of A.
When compared to other big competitors with similar business lines, the different is startling. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) disappointed the Street with its fourth-quarter revenue, but revenue shrank by an average of just 2.2% in the last three periods of 2009. Wells Fargo (WFC), known for its strong core revenue generation, posted average quarterly growth of 2.7%.
Analysts are now expecting Bank of America to report a profit of 9 cents per share on revenue of $27.6 billion, on average, according to Thomson Reuters. That would represent more than 10% growth from the fourth-quarter lull. The Street is targeting more moderate sequential growth throughout the rest of 2010, but growth nonetheless: 2.9%, 0.7% and 1.7% in the second through fourth quarters.Bank of America is trying hard to meet or exceed those goals. Now that its long-time piggy bank -- the U.S. consumer -- is drained of potential, Bank of America has shifted its focus to other areas. CEO Brian Moynihan has outlined a new business strategy to tap emerging markets where financial services are limited, as well as the investment banking and wealth management capabilities of the combined BofA-Merrill Lynch franchise. While it hasn't officially announced any plans to relocate headquarters, there has been chatter about Moynihan spending most of his time in New York and Boston offices, closer to the clients he's targeting. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is also whittling down money-losing business lines, like credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans, and anything subprime. The bank won't confirm reported plans to cut 10% of its branch network, but has been installing fancy ATMs that print images of check deposits and talk. It's also urging customers to use online banking rather than call or visit brick-and-mortar locations.
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