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Bank of America to Keep On Rising in 2013: Analyst

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America (JPM) should see a significant benefit from a stable net interest margin and housing recovery in 2013, according to JPMorgan Chase analyst Vivek Juneja.

In his fourth-quarter earnings preview for large-cap banks, Juneja on Friday reiterated his "Overweight" rating for Bank of America and raised his price target for the company's shares to $13 from $11.50, implying 23% upside from Thursday's closing price of $10.54. A stellar 91% year-to-date through Thursday's close followed a 58% decline in 2011, so the shares were still down 20% from the end of 2010.

The analyst raised his 2013 earnings estimate for Bank of America by four cents to $1.06 and increased his 2014 EPS estimate by a nickel to $1.37. Juneja said his rating reflected "significant benefit from potential housing market recovery, potential for significant increase in normalized earnings, ongoing improvement of capital levels, relatively attractive valuation, and position as a leading retail and commercial banking franchise in the US." Bank of America's cost-cutting program and "some good progress on mortgage related issues" were also cited by the analyst.

Juneja cut his price targets for six of the nine large-cap banks he covers. Aside from Bank of America, the only bank for which JPMorgan's price target was raised, was Citigroup (C - Get Report), with the target increasing to $43 from $41, implying 15% upside from Thursday's closing price of $37.29. Citigroup's shares were up 43% year-to-date, following a 44% decline during 2011. The shares were still down 21% from the end of 2010.

Juneja maintained his neutral rating for Citigroup, saying that the company "has an attractive franchise with good long-term growth opportunities in emerging markets and should also have good capital return potential over time as capital gets freed up from Citi Holdings," but that "emerging markets growth outlook is slowing near-term and capital return likely to be muted especially with annual stress tests" by the Federal Reserve.

Citi Holdings is the subsidiary into which Citigroup's noncore assets have been place, as part of former CEO Vikram Pandit's "good bank/bad bank" strategy to right-size the company's balance sheet and boost capital ratios. This strategy was accelerated last week along with other major initiatives to cut expenses, by new Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.
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