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NEW YORK (
Bank of America(BAC - Get Report)'s recent rally hasn't led longtime investor and gadfly Finger Interests to divest any of its shares, according to partner Jonathan Finger, who says the firm will likely wait until shares start to approach tangible book value--roughly $13, before considering such a move.
At that point, Finger says, "we'll take a very hard look at where the company is and whether it makes sense to sell."
Finger expects to wait a couple of years until the shares hit that level, however. Following a rise of 19.38% since Sept. 5, Bank of America shares closed at $9.55 on Friday, close to their 52 week high of $10.10 on March 19.
Finger Interests initially acquired its stake in what is now Bank of America when the Finger family sold a bank it owned to NationsBank in 1996. (NationsBank bought Bank of America and took its name in 1998.)
Finger says his firm has sold "a substantial portion" of its stake in Bank of America over time, but has mostly been a buyer since the 2008 crisis. Bank of America shares are the largest position of the $25 million Finger Interests manages, exceeding 10% of the portfolio, Finger says.
Despite its steady investment in Bank of America shares, Finger Interests has been an outspoken critic of Bank of America management past and present. It is plaintiff in a lawsuit against the bank for failing to disclose mushrooming losses at Merrill Lynch in 2008 before asking shareholders to approve the deal. A separate class action lawsuit is also pending. Finger declined to discuss the lawsuit.
Despite initially opposing the appointment of bank CEO Brian Moynihan, Finger believes getting rid of him at this point would be a distraction.
Finger praised efforts by management to strengthen the company's balance sheet by building capital and selling noncore assets. He still has questions about "what the true core earnings power of the company is, and I think they are in the process now of adjusting their expenses to match revenues."
Like many shareholders, Finger still has questions about the bank's ongoing exposure to legal challenges from investors in bonds backed by subprime mortgages underwritten by Countrywide Financial.