Bank of America Corp. (ticker: BAC) is one of the most high-profile earnings reports out this week, and the big question heading into Tuesday morning’s report is, did its banking brethren already deliver a sour taste of what’s to come?
The performance of BAC stock in 2017 is one of the most confusing brands of disappointment investors can have. At returns of more than 9 percent so far in 2017, Bank of America is pacing well ahead of the market’s average annual returns. But BAC is slightly behind the Standard & Poor’s 500 index so far this year, and is doing so amid a political backdrop that was supposed to send it to the moon.
Specifically, President Donald Trump’s election victory was supposed to herald in a new era of bank deregulation that would allow big banks to take greater, more lucrative trading gambles and generally make it easier for financial stocks to churn out greater profits. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s rush of activity — three rate hikes in 12 months — was supposed to usher in higher interest rates that would push BAC’s net interest income higher.
The headline numbers. Wall Street’s analysts see second-quarter improvements on the horizon for Bank of America. The consensus estimate for revenues is $21.8 billion, or 4.9 percent higher than last year. That should result in a similar hike in profits to 43 cents per share.
On the whole, those projections are better than what Wall Street was hoping for out of JPMorgan Chase & Co. ( JPM), Wells Fargo & Co. ( WFC) and Citigroup ( C) last week. But that’s little comfort given that despite earnings beats from all three, other factors — such as high expenses for WFC and a discouraging outlook from JPM — stopped all Big Four stocks in their tracks last Friday.
Unfortunately for anyone long BAC stock, these reports give some vital clues as to what we should expect to hear Tuesday.
Heed Wall Street’s omens. A couple weeks ago, Keefe, Bruyette and Woods’ Brian Kleinhanzl knocked down earnings estimates for a few Wall Street banks, including BAC, where he lowered his profit target from 48 cents per share to 44 cents. And his reasoning seemed prescient given what we found out from other large banks last week.
For instance, Kleinhanzl expressed concerns about “subdued” market volatility and thus lowered trading revenue forecasts. Fast-forward to last Friday’s JPMorgan earnings report, which did include a record quarterly profit, but also a 14…