Bank of America tops expectations as higher rates help offset declines in investment banking

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Brian Moynihan, CEO, Bank of America

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Bank of America reported fourth-quarter results on Friday that showed higher interest rates helped the Wall Street giant make up for a sharp slowdown in investment banking.

Here are the key metrics compared with what Wall Street expected:

  • Earnings: 85 cents per share versus 77 cents a share, according to Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $24.66 billion versus $24.33 billion, according to Refinitiv

Shares of Bank of America fell nearly 3% in premarket trading.

Expectations were running high that Bank of America would post gains in interest income thanks to higher rates and loan growth in the fourth quarter. The bank reported $14.7 billion of net interest income, up 29% year over year but slightly below Wall Street expectations of $14.8 billion, according to StreetAccount.

That gain helped offset a decline in investment banking fees, which fell more than 50% to $1.1 billion. That result was largely in line with expectations, according to StreetAccount.

Bank of America, led by CEO Brian Moynihan, was supposed to be one of the main beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve’s rate-boosting campaign. But bank stocks got hammered last year amid concerns a recession was on the way.

“The themes in the quarter have been consistent all year as organic growth and rates helped deliver the value of our deposit franchise. That coupled with expense management helped drive operating leverage for the sixth consecutive quarter,” Moynihan said in a statement.

Investors will be eager to see how Moynihan describes the state of the bank’s retail and business customers. The bank implemented a $1.1 billion provision for credit losses, up $1.6 billion compared with the same quarter in 2021, but said net charge-offs remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Notably, that was below the $2.3 billion provision for credit losses from rival JPMorgan Chase, which warned that a “mild recession” is now its central case for the U.S. economic outlook. In the earnings release, Moynihan described the economic environment as “increasingly slowing.”

On the consumer banking front, Bank of America reported that balances were roughly flat, while credit card and debit spending rose 5% year over year. Average outstanding balance on credit cards climbed by 14%.

Average loans and leases for the whole bank rose 10% year over year, while the same metric for consumer banking rose 6%.

The global wealth and investment management business saw total revenue increase marginally even as average deposits declined. Net income for the segment was down 2% year over year.

Prior to the report, Bank of America’s stock was up 4% in the first few days of 2023.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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