Updated with market close information.
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors should ignore Thursday's foreclosure settlement.
The $25 billion settlement between federal regulators, 49 states' attorneys general, and the largest loan servicers -- including Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report), Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report), Citigroup (C - Get Report), and Ally Financial -- removes some headline risk for the banks, while providing some cash to millions of consumers who lost their homes, but the banks were already substantially reserved for their immediate $5 billion cash payout, and the loans subject to principal write-downs as part of the settlement, had already been substantially marked-down by the banks.
Not surprisingly, Bank of America is the largest participant in the settlement, to the tune of $11.8 billion. While that's a huge number, the company said that "The financial impact of the settlements is not expected to cause any additional reserves to be taken over those made during 2011."The settlement does nothing to alleviate Bank of America's mortgage putback risk, mainly resulting from the purchase of Countrywide Financial in 2008, but also from the Merrill Lynch acquisition. The putback claims -- including the Federal Housing Agency's massive suit against 17 lenders in September -- could take years to work out. Then again, Bank of America "ended 2011 with $15.9 billion reserved to address potential representations and warranties mortgage repurchase claims." Bank of America did say that the "$1 billion in refinancing assistance" it would provide under the settlement "is expected to be recognized as lower interest income in future periods as qualified borrowers pay reduced interest rates on loans refinanced." So, whatever your previous opinion on Bank of America was, prior to the settlement, it would appear that nothing really has changed, other than the probable reduction of breathless headlines, bashing the company and its competitors for foreclosing on borrowers who haven't been paying what they agreed to pay. Bank of America's shares have rallied 47% year-to-date, through Friday's close at $8.107, after sliding 58% in 2011.
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