3. Bank of America
Bank of America's shares closed at $11.93 Friday, down 11% year-to-date. Based on the mean target price of $17.14, the shares have 44% upside potential.
As the nation's largest bank holding company, with a leading mortgage servicing position from its acquisition of Countrywide in 2008, Bank of America is at the forefront of the continued political and regulatory onslaught against the mortgage industry. The company faces plenty of financial and headline risk over the short term, with coming settlements with federal regulators over loan servicing and foreclosure procedures, and another settlement with states attorneys general, over the foreclosure mess.Bank of America reported first-quarter net income of $2.1 billion, or 17 cents a share, compared to $3.2 billion, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier. First-quarter results were boosted by a $2 billion release of loan loss reserves, however, this was more than offset by a decline in mortgage banking income and increases in mortgage-related and legal expenses. The company also reported that as of March 31, outstanding mortgage claims by counterparties totaled $13.6 billion, rising from $10.7 billion the previous quarter. Nancy Bush, an independent bank analyst and contributing editor for SNL Financial, told TheStreet that Bank of America's first-quarter results included $3 billion in mortgage assessments and waivers, adding that with "an estimate of $7 to $10 billion for their possible additional liability and the repurchase mess," it could take an additional five years for the company's mortgage problems to play out. "The worst of this whole thing will happen for the large banks through the first half of 2012, so we have roughly another year of substantial expenses relating to the resolution of the housing crisis," Bush said. Earlier this month, Rochdale analyst Richard Bove said he didn't "see any reason why Bank of America is not going to double from the current price," also saying he expected most of the mortgage problems to be addressed over the next twelve months. Bank of America's shares are trading at a very low 7 times the consensus 2012 earnings estimate of $1.71 a share. Out of 26 analysts covering Bank of America, 14 rate the shares a buy, while the remaining analysts all have neutral ratings.
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