Cramer: This may be the best big bank

CNBC

Bank of America (BAC)'s better-than-expected earnings report likely signals a turning point for the country's second-largest bank, and the company may be the best in class this quarter, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

"I thought Bank of America was maybe-because I care so much about net interest margin-the best of the banks," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street."

"I liked what I heard," Cramer said.

Following the earnings release, shares were up in more than 3 percent in midafternoon trading Wednesday. (Click here for the latest price (BAC))

"When you look at some of the banks, the banks are not earning what we'd like them to if you're a bull. ... Perhaps because of Dodd-Frank ," he said.

Net interest margin, commercial loans, growth in global lending and lower litigation expenses have been sources of strength for the company, he said.

"They've been cleaning that balance sheet pretty rapidly," he added. On the liabilities side, they have also trimmed their high-cost debt and redeemed preferred shares, he said.

(Related: Cramer: Citigroup, Capital One are 'horrendous shorts' )

"This was the kind of quarter that I did not expect from Bank of America. ... They gave you no reason to sell off the group."

Net income applicable to common shareholders rose to $3.57 billion, or 32 cents per share, from $2.10 billion, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue, net of interest expense, rose 3.5 percent to $22.73 billion.

Analysts on average had expected the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets to earn 25 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

The bank's operating expenses fell to $16.02 billion from $17.05 billion in the same quarter last year.

(Read more: Bank of America profit beats as expenses fall )

Cramer said that after this earnings report, the heads of Wells Fargo (WFC), JP Morgan (JPM) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) are likely concerned that Bank of America will begin taking back market share.

He added that there's an underlying theme in bank earnings this quarter, where they are less focused on the Treasury and Federal Reserve . However, based upon Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's comments at the CNBC-Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference praising regulation, perhaps banks shouldn't be so dismissive of regulatory risks, Cramer said.

(Read more: Lew: Dodd-Frank helped save the banking system )

He said Lew is doing a great job and foreign markets would benefit by following his lead.

"The capital ratios that I am seeing from the major banks are terrific," he said. "When do the regulators just say, 'Mission accomplished'?" Cramer asked.

One bank that has been underwhelming, however, was the regional bank Comerica (CMA), which saw a drop in loan growth, but this weakness shouldn't be used as a proxy for the big banks, Cramer said..

-By CNBC's Paul Toscano. Follow him on Twitter and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street" @ToscanoPaul . Reuters contributed to this report

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