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Bank of America: Financial Loser

Bank of America's shares have now returned 67% year-to-date, following last year's 58% decline.

The shares trade for 0.7 times their reported Sept. 30 tangible book value of $13.48, and for 10 times the consensus 2013 earnings estimate of 96 cents a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Staite on Wednesday upgraded Bank of America to an "Overweight" rating from "Equal Weight," while raising his price target for the shares by 50% to $12.00.

"After several years of disappointment, we believe that BAC has turned a corner and will see stronger pre-provision profitability in 2013," Staite said, "helped by lower costs and a strengthening housing market." Pre-provision earnings refer to earnings before a bank's quarterly provision for loan losses. At this point in the credit cycle, many banks are adding little to reserves each quarter, in order to "release" reserves to more appropriate levels as loan quality improves. This can distort earnings upward. Of course, if a bank sells nonperforming loans, it can also see a spike in one quarter's provision for reserves, which also distorts earnings.

State also said that Bank of America's net interest margin "trends look better than peers and capital ratios have improved significantly, making a capital return in 2013 a real possibility."

Over the coming year, Staite expects Bank of America "to shed the $10bn in abnormal costs associated with servicing delinquent mortgages," as the housing market continues to recover, and that the bank may settle "some" of its mortgage putback demands, "thus removing an overhang."

"We have assumed a one off $6bn charge that we include in our book value calculations," he said."

BAC Chart BAC data by YCharts

Interested in more on Bank of America? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

>Contact by Email.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.
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