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Bank of America Stock Is One Catalyst Away From Moving Higher

Will Healy

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) dropped and then recovered in Tuesday trading following its earnings announcement. The Charlotte-based banking giant beat earnings estimates, but missed on revenue. This, along with a warning about slowing net interest income, hit BAC stock before it recovered later in the day.

Bank of America Stock Is One Catalyst Away From Moving Higher

Source: Shutterstock However, the quick move to pre-report levels may show underlying confidence in BAC. With a low multiple and double-digit profit growth set to continue, Bank of America stock looks poised for a breakout.

BAC Stock Beat on Earnings, Fell Short on Revenue

For the first quarter, BAC reported its 16th consecutive beat on earnings. In Q1, the company earned 70 cents per share, or $7.3 billion. This beat estimates by 5 cents per share and came in ahead of the year-ago level of 62 cents per share. Consumer banking led the way as net income from that division rose 25% to $3 billion. Net income in its Global Wealth and Investment Management division also rose by 14%.

However, other divisions saw slower profit growth or, in the case of Global Banking, an outright decline. Also, revenues of $23 billion fell short of the first quarter revenue level of $23.07 billion last year. Analysts had expected $23.3 billion.

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The disappointment did not end there. The company also acknowledged that net interest income would rise by only 3% this year. Net interest income increased by 6% in 2018. This news sent BAC stock falling by as much as 2.8% in morning trading.

BAC Stock Recovered Quickly

However, the fact that the stock ended the day 0.13% higher shows underlying confidence in BAC. Since mid-January, the stock has mostly traded between $28 and $30 per share. The exception occurred in mid-March. BAC stock fell to as low as $26.67 per share when the Fed announced an intention to delay further rate increases for the year. Still, it recovered quickly to the previous range.

Traders appear justified in keeping BAC stock at these levels. When looking at the overall picture, little reason exists to sell Bank of America stock. The current price-to-earnings (PE) ratio stands at around 11.5. At this price level, the PE falls to 9.3 on a forward basis. For this valuation, investors buy a company expected to increase profits by 9.5% this year and 10.8% in fiscal 2020.

The improvements extend beyond BAC. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) confirmed the strength of this sector in their recent earnings reports. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) did not perform as well, but it continues to struggle with reputation issues. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which also offered mixed news in its report, depends more on investment banking.

When Will BAC Stock Finally Rise?

With BAC stock, the near-term questions involve when a breakout will occur and what will cause it? Since quarterly earnings did not offer a catalyst, predicting when becomes more difficult.

If nothing else, rising profits and falling earnings multiples will eventually take BAC stock higher. Moreover, BAC will pay its investors to wait with dividends. BAC has increased its payout for five straight years now. This year’s dividend of 60 cents per share yields about 2%. Hence, investors will receive a payout slightly above the current S&P 500 average of 1.85%. Also, if history serves as an indication, investors can expect the dividend to increase over time.

Final Thoughts on BAC Stock

Conditions remain in place for BAC stock to move higher. The question hinges on when? As predicted, earnings increased and beat estimates again. Also, despite disappointments in revenue and net interest income, the stock recovered quickly. Still, this leaves BAC stock rangebound and traders with no indication as to when it will break out.

Investors can buy now and earn a yield of about 2% on the dividend. Also, even if little else occurs, improving profits will force Bank of America stock to move higher at some point. However, until a catalyst appears, expect payouts and little else from BAC stock.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.

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