NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Investors looking for a recovery in traditional banking will have to continue waiting, results from Bank of America Corp. (BAC) show.
The banking giant reported a $4.2 billion profit for the first quarter, due largely to results from Merrill Lynch & Co., which Bank of America acquired Jan. 1. Mark-to-market accounting provided a $2.2 billion gain that helped boost profits. As in the cases of Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), a recovery in some capital markets businesses also boosted profits at Merrill and therefore BofA.
The bank's profit more than tripled from a year earlier, bouncing back from a $2.4 billion loss in the fourth quarter. Merrill Lynch contributed more than $3 billion to the bottom line. But the retail and commercial banking, credit card, and mortgage businesses show no signs of a recovery; BofA had to set aside more money for delinquent loans, and profit margins in some businesses contracted.
Earnings in retail banking declined by half from a year earlier, to about $500 million. Cards swung to a $1.8 billion loss from a $867 million profit, and the global banking segment with commercial banking and some advisory businesses fell to $175 million from $1 billion. The mortgage segment recovered somewhat, but still posted a $500 million loss. Analysts have had all eyes on Merrill, looking for everything from possible write-downs on its securities to how the integration is going.