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Why Bank of America (BAC) Stock Has at Least 25% Upside Next Year

Richard Saintvilus

InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips

Investors who are looking for a bank stock that can outperform its peers in the next 12 to 18 months should look no further than Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), which will report second-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings results ahead of Tuesday’s opening bell.

Why Bank of America (BAC) Stock Has at Least 25% Upside Next Year

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Bank stocks like BAC stock have had monster runs in recent weeks, driven by a combination of factors.

Some of these include comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and the interest rate hike in June, which followed broadly positive results from the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR), an analysis that dissects banks’ capital planning processes to confirm the need for a future bailout from taxpayers.

Where BAC Stock Stands Today

When compared to its “too-big-to-fail” peers such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), BAC stock has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the recent positive trends in financials.

BofA has risen 10.7% year-to-date; on Tuesday, when the Charlotte-based money center bank reports its earnings results, Wall Street expects the bank to account for that outperformance.

For the three months that ended June, analysts expect Bank of America to earn 43 cents per share on revenue of $21.8 billion. This compares to the year-ago quarter when the bank earned 41 cents per share on $20.8 billion in revenue. For the full year, ending in December, earnings are projected to rise 18% year over year to $1.77 per share, while full-year revenue of $88.38 billion would rise 4.5% year over year.

What to Like About BofA

Investors continue to look towards the financials sector not only for a good pulse of the economy, but also for signs that the stock market can sustain its bullish trend. In the case of bank stocks, however, there’s also concern that president Trump’s administration won’t fulfill its promise to pass its bank-friendly agenda amid scaling back Dodd-Frank and lower corporate taxes. The cut in banking regulations was widely forecasted to boost the sector.

Since the “wins” president Trump promised voters have yet to reveal themselves, not only are analysts no longer pricing in such catalysts, they’ve begun to slash estimates for some bank heavyweights such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), which have seen their second-quarter estimates cut by 11% and 8%, respectively, since the start of the year. By contrast, estimates for BAC stock have risen by 18% during that same period, according to the Financial Times, which cites Bloomberg data.

The reason for the optimism in BofA has to do with the actions taken by CEO Brian Moynihan, including BAC’s plans to drastically cut costs even after already reaching its $53 billion of expense-savings target by 2018.

Meanwhile, at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference in June, Chief Operating Officer, Thomas Montag, said one of the bank’s main focus was to look for innovative and new ways in which technology can replace humans, so as to reduce expenses.

Bottom Line for Bank of America Stock

BAC stock is no longer in “recovery mode” and Bank of America, the nation’s fourth-largest bank by assets, is now focused on growth, which explains why billionaire investor Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A, NYSE:BRK.B) continues to applaud its direction.

What’s more, from a valuation perspective, Bank of America stock, which is priced less-than 12 times fiscal 2018 estimates of $2.15 per share, still looks like a bargain, compared to Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, when factoring that 2018 EPS is projected to rise more than 21%, versus growth of 9% for Wells Fargo, 15% for JPMorgan and 14% for Citigroup.

All told, with BAC stock priced at around $24 per share, now’s the time to buy in. The stock should reach $30 in the next 12 to 18 months, delivering at least 25% returns.

As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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