NEW YORK — Bank of America posted a 12% decline in first-quarter profits from a year earlier, a decline that was much less than the ones its rivals had reported the previous week. The nation’s second-largest bank was helped by higher net interest income and very modest exposure to Russian assets.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said it earned a profit of $7.1 billion, or 80 cents a share, compared with a profit of $8.05 billion, or 86 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results were better than what analysts had forecasted, according to FactSet.
While BofA’s profits fell like the other big five Wall Street bank s this quarter, their results were helped by a few factors that helped the bank do better than its rivals.
The bank saw net interest income increase 13% in the quarter, roughly $1.4 billion. BofA’s balance sheet is more skewed to bonds with shorter maturities, so short-term moves in interest rates tend to quickly impact the bank’s bottom line.
BofA’s consumer banking division, the bank’s largest business by revenue and profits, also helped boost results. Net income in the division was up 11% from a year earlier, helped by higher revenue from loans and interest rates. Deposits also grew quite noticeably, up 14%, to $1.06 trillion.
“This is not a bad result for Bank of America, particularly the continued solid loan growth,” said David Wagner, portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors, who owns BofA shares, in an email.
The bank did not have to set aside much funds this quarter to cover potential losses as well, in contrast to JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, who had to set aside money to cover the risk of a recession as well as for their exposures to Russia. BofA had to set aside $700 million to cover its exposure to Russia, compared with the $1.9 billion Citigroup set aside.
Wagner thinks it’s possible BofA may have to raise its credit reserves later this year. JPMorgan was aggressive in reserving for loan losses in the pandemic, and seems to be doing so again now with inflation making it likely the Federal Reserve has to aggressively raise rates.
Banks only (reserve for losses) when they think that default rates, which are currently low, will start to rise. And JPMorgan admitted to such during the call, saying it was a ‘preemptive move’ if the economy slowed.”
Like other banks, BofA saw a drop in investment banking revenues and fees in the quarter as businesses refrained from deal-making due to market volatility. Trading revenues were down in the quarter, also due to market volatility.