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Bank of America: Cost-Cutting Loser (Update 1)

Stocks in this article: BAC C PNC I:BKX

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Erika Penala had said in a note earlier in the day that Citigroup's shares might be headed lower, and also said "we still think C represents one of the most attractive restructuring and recovery story long-term, and would view the expected weakness as a further buying opportunity."

Penala rates Citigroup a "Buy," with a $46 price objective.

Interested in more on Citigroup? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.


PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) was the sector winner, with shares rising 4% to close at $62.01, after the Pittsburgh lender reported fourth-quarter earnings of $719 million, or $1.24 a share, compared to earnings of $925 million, or $1.64 a share, in the third quarter, and $493 million, or 85 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

In keeping with the industry's "kitchen sink" theme for clearing out extraordinary items in the fourth quarter, PNC had preannounced $91 million in expenses related to mortgage foreclosures, including $70 million for the industry settlement. Other items included " a pretax provision of $254 million for residential mortgage repurchase obligations related to expected elevated levels of repurchase demands primarily as a result of further changes in behavior and demand patterns" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as ""a $45 million goodwill impairment charge for the company's mortgage unit, and a gain of $130 million on the sale of Visa (V)." Together, the items lowered PNC's fourth-quarter earnings by 47 cents a share.

Another major item affecting the fourth-quarter earnings was a $318 million provision for credit losses, increasing from $228 million the previous quarter, and $190 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. CFO Rick Johnson explained during the company's conference call that the provision "higher than the previous guidance of $150 million to $250 million, primarily due to the completion of our implementation of regulatory guidance for loans discharged from bankruptcy. A provision of $53 million was recorded in the fourth quarter related to this guidance."

Net income for 2012 was $3.0 billion, or $5.30 a share, declining slightly from $3.1 billion, or $5.64 a share in 2011.

Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin said in a note after the earnings announcement that PNC's core earnings looked "closer to $1.60-$1.65."

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