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Bank of America Climbs on Citi Upgrade Ahead of Next Week's Earnings

A Citi analyst upgraded Bank of America shares to neutral and raised his price target to $37.
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Shares of Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corporation Report are higher Tuesday after analysts at Citi raised their rating on the banking giant to neutral from sell and increased their price target to $37 from $31.

The stock hasn't closed at or above $37 since October 2008. Bank of America shares at last check rose 2.2% to $33.80. 

Bank of America "is also more levered to consumer, which we think will perform better this credit cycle given the stimulus programs," analyst Keith Horowitz said. 

The stock has run up nearly 30% in the past three months, Horowitz notes, compared with a 21.6% gain for the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF  (XLF) - Get Financial Select Sector SPDR Report and a 7.5% overall rise for the S&P 500. 

Bank of America is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results before the opening bell on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 

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Analysts surveyed by FactSet are expecting the Charlotte company to report fourth-quarter earnings of 55 cents a share, or an adjusted 53 cents, on revenue of $20.58 billion. 

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Banking stocks have benefited from the Federal Reserve's decision in December to grant lenders the ability to resume stock buybacks beginning in the first quarter of this year. 

The results of a second round of stress tests, released Friday, indicated that Wall Street banks were sound, despite the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which devastated the U.S. economy. 

The Fed in June had put temporary caps on shareholder payouts, prohibiting them from buying back stock or increasing dividend payments.

Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has said that the company plans to buy back stock as soon as it is allowed to.