"We think it will be hard for Bank of America to grow revenues faster than the 'average' bank," Orenbuch wrote. He expects "incremental improvement in fee income in 2013 relative to 2012 with growth in service charges, investment banking income and trading."
In the meantime, far more than peers like Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report), Bank of America has relied on "releases" of capital it set aside to cover bad loans in order to boost its earnings. Such reserve releases equaled 86% of Bank of America's earnings last quarter and 163% of the bank's profits in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck. She predicts such releases will equate to 72% of Bank of America's earnings in the fourth quarter. That compares to 17% at JPMorgan, which announced its fourth quarter earnings Wednesday.
Of course Bank of America's success will in many ways be tied to the overall economy, as Wells Fargo analyst Matt Burnell contended in a Jan. 7 report.
"In our view,
Check Out Our Best Services for Investors
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Model portfolio
- Stocks trading below $10
- Intraday trade alerts