Jan. 15 - Stronger credit quality helped boost Bank of America's earnings. Fred Katayama reports.
The quality of credit is improving, and that helped Bank of America quadruple its quarterly earnings. The U.S.' second largest bank drastically shrank the money it sets aside to cover bad loans. Rising home prices and a drop in delinquencies helped strengthen credit quality. And, unlike its rivals, it boosted income from bond and currency trading. But like its peers, BofA saw mortgage originations sharply drop amid rising interest rates. And its legal expenses more than doubled because of the residential mortgage-backed securities litigation it's facing. But ISI analyst Glenn Schorr said, "You do see flashes of better earnings power ahead for Bank of America as loans, deposits, net interest income, wealth management and investment banking all grew and expenses continued to grind lower." The stock rose sharply in early trading, adding on to its 34 percent gain last year. But it's roughly one-fourth of its peak in 2006. Analysts note that Bank of America is particularly leveraged to the U.S. economy, so it could benefit from a further recovery in the real estate market and consumer spending.